Flood scare in Rawalpindi after Leh Nullah swells up to 19 feet

RAWALPINDI: After a night-long spell which inundated almost all parts of Rawalpindi and prompted emergency response after the water level in Leh Nullah rose to up to 19 feet in Kattarian, residents living next to the torrent were forced to flee their houses fearing the nullah would break its bank due to incessant rain.

The authorities summoned two units of the Pakistan Army to cope with the potential emergency and deployed soldiers at Murree Road and Gawalmandi – where the water rose to 17 feet. In Gawalmandi – a densely-populated locality – an alert is issued if the water level rises to 8.3 feet, emergency sirens are blared at 13 feet, and water starts overflowing at 20 feet.

As the water continued to rise, the district administration blasted sirens and asked the residents to move to safety. The efforts to relocate citizens were reportedly not successful since many of them refused to move to safer places. But a lot of people were back to their houses after the rain stopped and the nullah started flowing at a normal pace.

“Mostly people went back to their localities soon after the rain stopped,” said an official of the district administration. He said that the rescue team faced difficulties as people did not leave their houses and added that the team had no authority to use force to shift them to safer places.

Roads, residential areas under water as city records 200mm of rain

WASA Managing Director Mohammad Tanveer said the water level in Leh Nullah increased to 19 feet and 17 feet at Kattarian and Gawalmandi bridges, respectively, and a pre-alert had been issued to the emergency departments in the city.

The rain started at midnight and continued till Wednesday afternoon, fluctuating from light to heavy showers. The night-long downpour brought the mercury to 27 Celsius and disrupted all outdoor activities. The continuous spells also exposed the tall claims of Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonment boards and the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation to have “completed the patchwork on streets and roads in low-lying areas”.

Meanwhile, people residing in low-lying areas spent the better part of the night draining rainwater from their residences. The areas where rainwater entered the houses included Bazaar Kallan, Dingi Khoi, Raja Bazaar, Akalgarh, Nadeem Colony, Javed Colony, Dhoke Ratta, Ganjmandi, Jamia Masjid Road, Banni Chowk, Sadiqabad, Satellite Town, Commercial Market, College Road, Bohar Bazaar, Naya Mohallah, Raja Bazaar, Mohanpura, Nanakpura, Arjan Nagar and Amarpura. The power supply was also suspended in low-lying areas.

(Clockwise from top) Vehicles pass through the inundated Murree Road in Rawalpindi; residents of Kohati Bazaar look at the flooded street outside their houses; workers pump out rainwater from the Golra Mor Chowk construction site while clouds hang over Margalla Hills in Islamabad following rain on Wednesday. — Photos by Online & INP

Nadeem Colony, Javed Colony, Muslim Colony, Dhoke Ratta, Ganjmandi, Jamia Masjid Road, Banni Chowk, Sadiqabad, Satellite Town, Commercial Market, College Road, Bohar Bazaar, Naya Mohallah, Iqbal Road, Purana Qila, Raja Bazaar, Kohati Bazaar, Mochi Bazaar, Mohanpura, Nanakpura, Arjan Nagar, Amarpura, Khayaban-i-Sir Syed and 7th Road were under three to four feet of rainwater, as observed during a visit by the Dawn correspondent.

In Banni, Wasa rescued 20 women and children trapped in an Imambargah after the rainwater entered the premises and adjoining roads were submerged.

The rain also caused extensive damage to roads, some of which had been re-laid only recently. Some buildings were also damaged due to rain in the downtown. Many graves were also damaged in Dhoke Ratta, Allahabad and Westridge.

Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha said the district administration was on high alert to deal with an emergency. He said that the flood centres had been activated and the health department had been directed to provide necessary medicines. He said that there was no report of life and property loss in the city due to the high flood in Leh Nullah.

Meanwhile, Wasa claimed that the water was drained out by the afternoon and movement on roads had been restored. Separately, people were afraid to cross the Soan Bridge, a portion of which had been recently caved in due to rain. The traffic had been diverted to alternative routes.

In a separate incident, at least 11 passengers, most of them travelling on buses, were injured in a pile-up on the Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway near Brahma-Bahtar Interchange in the limits of Wah Saddar police station on Wednesday. The wounded including three in critical condition were moved to hospitals.

According to police and rescue officials, a Peshawar-bound bus skidded off the motorway due to water accumulated on the road. Resultantly, it turned turtle. Seven more vehicles rammed into the wreckage, causing injuries to 11 people, they added.

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