Clean-up in effect after record rain in Pakistan

Huge sinkhole opens on busy Lahore road amid warnings plastic bags are blocking drains in Punjab
Clean-up in effect after record rain in Pakistan

A 12-meter by 10-meter sinkhole appeared in Lahore when part of a road collapsed after heavy rain on July 3. ( photo)

Authorities in Pakistan's Punjab province have begun repairs and rebuilding work in the wake of heavy July 3 rains that claimed 17 lives.

Nine people were killed in the provincial capital of Lahore as a 15-hour downpour submerged many parts of the city. The other deaths were reported in surrounding areas.

In Lahore, a 12-meter by 10-meter sinkhole appeared on a main road.

Catholic and Church of Pakistan cathedrals are located near where the road collapsed at the site of an underground train station now under construction.

The disaster also affected weekly St. Anthony prayers at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Usually, about 500 devotees gather for the popular prayers but in the wake of the storm that number dropped to around 100, catechist Sarfraz Victor told ucanews.

"Climate change has caused unprecedented rains and an early monsoon," he said. "Prayers are being held for the deceased."

Media reports stated that 288mm of rainfall was recorded in Lahore, breaking a 38-year record. Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast more to come.

PMD teams attended a recent workshop on "Monsoon Preparedness and Contingency Planning" held at the Caritas National Secretariat.

Naeem Naz, head of Caritas' human resource management in Lahore, called for an awareness campaign to combat the improper disposal of plastic bags that clog the city's poorly-maintained drainage system.

According to the Ministry of Climate Change, 55 billion plastic shopping bags are used each year in Pakistan, with the rate increasing 15 percent a year on average.

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