243 killed in Pakistan's deadliest flood
Islamabad: Nearly half a million people in Pakistan have been hit by the deadliest flood in the country's history that has claimed 243 lives, as authorities braced to save major towns along the swollen Chenab river, which has left a trail of devastation. Flood waters submerged thousands of homes after the Chenab river rose dramatically over the weekend, rendering people homeless. Severe damage has been caused by the Jhelum and Chenab rivers, which swelled after heavy monsoon rainfall last week. The showers which started last week continued through the weekend in Punjab and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The major damage has been done in Punjab. More than 4,36,000 people have been affected in Punjab and 30,000 in PoK due to flooding. The death toll from the devastating floods triggered by heavy monsoon rain today rose to 241, a National Disaster Management Authority official said. The NDMA said 168 people have been killed in Punjab, 64 in PoK and 11 in Gilgit-Baltistan region. The victims include 12 worshippers who were killed today when a two-storey mosque in a densely-populated area of Lahore collapsed. More than 400 people have been injured in floods and rain-related incidents. Army and civilian rescue agencies mounted relief efforts to get villagers to safety with the help of helicopters and boats. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who visited the flood-hit areas in the province, said the floods were the "deadliest in the history of Pakistan". Although the rains have stopped, the flood waters are likely to submerge hundreds of more villages. Pakistani authorities were bracing for worsening conditions as water level in the Chenab was rising. The immediate attention is on Trimmu barrage in Jhang district, where Jhelum river joins Chenab. The two rivers are carrying more than 900,000 cusec water against the maximum 700,000 cusec capacity of Trimmu. After Jhang, the central city of Multan is also on the flood list. Dunya TV reported that only option to save the city is to create several breeches in the embankments of the river, which will flood several more villages and hamlets. Chenab has left a trail of devastation in Sialkot, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha and Khushabad and Jhang districts. The Federal Flood Commission (FFC), Pakistan Indus Water Commission (PIWC), Indus River System Authority (Irsa) and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) met yesterday to review coordination in rescue efforts.