Powerful windstorm, heavy rain claim 44 lives in Pakistan

Mini-Cyclone described as the third worst in the country’s history

PESHAWAR, (Pakistan) — At least 44 people were killed and hundreds more injured Sunday when devastating windstorm coupled with heavy rain and hail hit Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. Pakistan’s Meteorological Department described the mini-cyclone as the third worst in the country’s history that struck Peshawar, Islamabad and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday.

And officials are worried there may be many more casualties. According to Peshawar’s provincial minister Zia Afridi, the majority of tragic incidents took place in the outskirts of Peshawar. Torrential rains and winds blowing at 110 Km/ hour caused the catastrophe.

Rescuers rushed victims to hospitals as roads submerged in water hindered their operations. Ambulances and rescue vehicles found difficult to enter into some areas due to fallen trees and electric poles. Residents carried some of the injured on their backs to cars heading to hospitals.

An emergency has been declared at all local hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The dead and injured, including women and children, have been shifted to Lady Reading Hospital, said rescue services. “We received 25 dead and more than 160 injured so far. But injured are still being shifted to the hospital and I am afraid death toll may rise,” said Jamil Shah, spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital, the largest public hospital in the area.

A man carries his injured daughter at a hospital following heavy rains and winds in Pakistan's city Peshawar on April 26, 2015
A man carries his injured daughter at a hospital following heavy rains and winds in Pakistan’s city Peshawar on April 26, 2015. Photo: AFP

While extending his condolences on the loss of life and property due to the torrential rains, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif approved a package of Rs500,000 for the family of each deceased person and Rs50,000 for each person injured.

The military was also called in to boost rescue efforts, equipped with ground penetrating radars, concrete cutters and sniffer dogs, according to a tweet by DG ISPR Maj Gen Asim Bajwa.

Two army battalions have been deployed in the affected areas for rescue and relief work.

The severe storm uprooted trees, blew away billboards, and damaged power transmission lines, causing a blackout. Many areas were without power in parts of Peshawar and Charsadda districts.

A huge shed at the toll plaza on the motorway was also torn away by the strong winds.

Torrential rainfall resulted in accumulation of three feet deep water in some areas.

Similar incidents were also reported in Charsadda road, Badho Sumar Bagh and Badhni area.

The windstorm badly affected Peshawar city and its adjoining areas, uprooting several trees and badly damaging crops, particularly wheat crops, vegetables and orchards.

Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Riaz Mehsud said several houses and buildings had been collapsed due to winds and rain.

The storm also pulled out electricity poles that caused power suspension to Peshawar and its adjoining areas, and disrupted the telecommunication system in most parts of the city.

The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province declared an emergency and called in all the doctors and supporting staff to help.


With 44 killed, more rains forecast in Peshawar

Pakistan’s Met Office has forecast more showers in the next 24 hours.

Pakistan’s Meteorological Department has declared that Peshawar destruction due to rain was unexpected and a result of tornadoes, saying that rains system surrounded 150 kilometer area across Peshawar.

Civil Aviation Division spokesman said that there were rain and strong winds likely in Peshawar, but tornado with a speed of 110 kilometer per hour was not expected, adding that hitting of tornadoes like this in Pakistan was new and unexpected incident, which caused as much loss.

According to spokesman earlier such tornado had hit three times in Sialkot and Sargodha, however it is difficult to identify the whirlwinds.

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