Karachi Pakistan floods
A man carries goods as he wades through a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Extensive rescue activities have been launched in Sindh province, particularly in the country’s financial hub Karachi, after record-breaking heavy rainfall battered the city of over 16 million on Tuesday causing five deaths, urban flooding, traffic jams and power outages.

More than 70 army and Sindh rangers rescue teams assisted the civil administration to provide relief to the affected population in Karachi, shifting people to safer places in boats and providing them food and shelter. Army engineers used heavy machinery to stop the flow of water from Malir river by refilling the breached area.

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Rain emergency declared

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah declared rain emergency all over Sindh province as authorities aided by armed forces began a massive rescue operation. Sindh Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said relief goods, including food items, blankets water coolers, pumps and tents, have been sent to the affected areas.

The incessant rain and flooding turned the roads into rivers, forcing some residents onto rooftops and balconies as floodwaters washed away cars and bikes. The rains, which began on Monday and continued throughout Tuesday, triggered urban flooding in several areas of Karachi, bringing life to almost standstill as the city reported at least five deaths due to drowning, wall collapse and electrocution.

Paramilitary troops Karachi Pakistan aid
Paramilitary troop distribute water bottles and food packets among residents of a flooded area after heavy monsoon rains, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. Pakistan's military said it will deploy rescue helicopters to Karachi to transport some 200 families to safety after canal waters flooded the city amid monsoon rains. Image Credit: AP

The ineffective drainage system, lack of proper solid waste disposal, heaps of garbage and illegal construction along both sides of the roads are considered the major problems that aggravate urban flooding Pakistan’s largest city.

August 2020 rain breaks previous record

The 345mm downpour recorded at Karachi’s Faisal Base this month broke the city’s previous record of 298mm in 1984 August. The highest amount of rainfall of 134 millimetres was recorded at Faisal Base on Tuesday while Gulshan-e-Hadeed recorded 122mm, Nazimabad 91mm, Saddar 88mm, Landhi 85mm, University Road 79mm, Saadi Town 72mm, Masroor Base 68mm and North Karachi 50mm. Rain with thunderstorm was also reported from Dadu, Padidan, Thatta, Larkana, Mohenjo-Daro, Mirpurpkhas, Hyderabad and other areas of Sindh.

Power outages

Multiple transformers reportedly tripped during rain across the city, resulting in major suspension of power supply as some areas remained without electricity throughout the night. Rainwater also reportedly entered electricity installations in Gulshan, Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Bin Qasim, which took longer to restore electricity supply.

Train operations suspended

Pakistan Railways cancelled the departure of various passenger trains to Sindh from Punjab after several sections of the track were submerged due to torrential rains in Sindh. The rain has disturbed the train schedule for over a week now.

Rains impede business activity in Karachi

Heavy rains and flooding brought business activity and production at industries to a halt in Karachi as many workers decided to stay at home after rain emergency was imposed by the Sindh government. Movement of goods to and from ports also remained suspended while local supplies to the markets from industries were also affected due to closure of markets.