Storms kill more than 200 in Pakistan

Residents remove debris from a building damaged by heavy rains and thunderstorms in the Ghadab area outskirt of Karachi, Pakistan on Sunday.Shakil Adil / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Collapsed houses and severed electrical cables killed at least 228 people after heavy rains and thunderstorms lashed Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, an official said Sunday.

Sardar Ahmed, minister of health for Sindh province, said 185 more bodies were counted in the city morgue after Saturday’s storm. Karachi’s mayor initial said 43 people were killed.

The country’s economic hub, a dynamic but chaotic city with fragile infrastructure, frequently seethes with tension and street protests, some sparked by massive power outages. The atmosphere has been particularly tense since May 12, when political unrest left more than 40 people dead.

Anwar Kazmi, a senior official at the Edhi Foundation, which runs the morgue, said many of the victims came from a cluster of villages with mud houses and other flimsy structures on Karachi’s eastern outskirts.

Most of the deaths were caused by collapsing homes but snapped power lines electrocuted at least 20 people people, Ahmed said.

Electricity was still disrupted in some neighborhoods Sunday. Residents angry after a night without power to run fans or air conditioners in the sweltering summer heat staged street protests, Karachi Mayor Mustafa Kamal said.

Relief camp set up
Work on restoring the electricity supply had started and municipal workers were clearing storm-toppled trees, billboards and other debris from streets in the city on the Arabian Sea coast, he said.

A relief camp was set up to provide food, medicine and shelter to people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the eastern outskirts, said Murtaza Baluch, mayor of the neighborhood of mainly farm and factory workers.

Dozens of people died in storms in Karachi last year and choked drains left many streets flooded with rain water, but Kamal said new drains were built, preventing massive flooding this year.