x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Rain lashes Karachi as Phet nears

Approaching tropical storm Phet has triggered torrential rains in Pakistan's largest city and surrounding areas, damaging mud houses and submerging roads.

An approaching tropical storm has triggered torrential rains in Pakistan's largest city and surrounding areas, damaging mud houses and submerging roads. Officials feared worse flooding was to come and tried to evacuate people from their homes along the country's southern coastline. Some villagers refused to move, but several thousand people shifted to higher ground, many from two offshore islands, said Hamal Kalmati, a government minister in Baluchistan province.

He said many mud houses in Gawadar and Pasni districts had already collapsed. The storm was expected to make landfall later today, bringing more rain and winds as high as 80 kilometres per hour. Originally of cyclone strength, Tropical Storm Phet hit Oman on Friday. In Karachi, hours of rain left roads under more than 30 centimetres of water. Electricity was cut in many districts in the mostly low-lying city of 18 million people.

Many parts of Karachi and other towns along Pakistan's coast are desperately poor. Roads, bridges, houses and drainage systems are already in bad condition, making them vulnerable to high winds, heavy rain and rough seas. Rescue officials said some villagers were refusing to abandon their houses. "They are adamant about not leaving their home despite our best efforts," said Sualeh Ahmed Farooqi. *AP