Thatta caught unawares

courtesy DAWN News

THATTA: Breaches occurred suddenly in two embankments at Thursday midnight, one near Faqir Jo Goth and the other at Chhatto Chand, about four kilometres from Thatta town.

Floodwaters started moving towards the town, triggering panic and forcing people to shift to safety.

The administration has ordered evacuation of Sujawal, Mirpur Bathoro, Shah Bandar and Jati talukas of the district of Thatta after the raging Indus breached an embankment late Wednesday night.

The 20-foot breach in the Mulchand-Surjani dyke widened to 190 feet on Thursday morning, inundating Kot Almo, a small town of 10,000 people, and about 56 villages along the left bank of the Indus.

Floodwaters have also entered the town of Darro on the left bank of the Indus.

(“The situation in Thatta is very serious,” relief commissioner for Sindh Riaz Ahmed Soomro told Reuters. “We have dispatched army personnel, helicopters and boats to the area. The first priority is to evacuate the people.”

Saleh Farooqi, director general of the National Disaster Management Agency’s Sindh office, said: “If a second levee breaks, more towns will be inundated.”)

The army and district administration said the situation worsened after the irrigation authorities made a cut in the Loop bund to divert water to the nearby Pinyari canal. Within no time the bund developed six breaches at the site.

After hearing about the breach in the MS dyke early in the morning, a large number of people converged on bus stops and other places to move to safety.

Hundreds of vehicles, bullock and donkey carts, camels and bikes were seen leaving the area. People complained about shortage of buses and high fares.

About 70 per cent of the residents of Sujawal, Mirpur Bathoro, Shah Bandar and Jati have left their homes and are moving to Thatta, Hyderabad, Badin and Karachi.

They faced a serious problem when a long vehicle developed a fault and blocked the narrow passage on the Doolah Darya Khan bridge, the only land access to Thatta. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides of the bridge for over six hours.

Another breach occurred in a protective bund in Shah Luko, near Chhatto Chand.

However, the water has been diverted to the KB Feeder lower — a second line of defence on the right bank of the Indus.

PPP MPA Humera Alwani said that Karachi Corps Commander Shahid Amir and Brigadier Mehmood Sadiq had informed her that Pakistan Steel Mills and the army had provided 400 vehicles to transport over 500,000 people of Sujawal subdivision to safe areas.

The vehicles started arriving in Thatta on Thursday night. Army officers said that troops would carry out rescue and relief work and maintain law and order in the area. Army engineers have been assigned the task to plug the MS dyke breach which is facing a flow of 20,000 cusecs.

The army officers said the discharge would increase to 100,000 cusecs in 24 hours if the breach was not plugged.

Ms Alwani said the army believed that the rupture had been caused by the oceanic resistance to the Indus water with the high tide rising to 25 feet. She said the next seven days would be critical.

PPP MPA Sadiq Ali Memon and district president Arbab Wazir Memon and PML-Q MNA Ayaz Ali Shah Shirazi told Dawn that another high flood of 945,000 cusecs would reach Kotri downstream on Friday and could cause further damage.

They held the irrigation department responsible for the Kot Almo breach because there had been no maintenance and repair of the MS bund.

Sindh’s Culture Minister Sassui Palijo said the provincial government had sought 10 helicopters to evacuate stranded people.

Hundreds of families were seen sitting under trees in Thatta and Makli, desperately waiting for food and shelter.

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