Torrential rains and hailstorms have left at least 35 dead and more than 200 injured in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, reports AFP. The provincial government has declared a state of emergency in the region. Peshawar is home to some 3 million people.
Rain, wind and hail in Sunday’s storm caused many structures, especially houses built from clay, to collapse. Trees have been uprooted, and billboards throughout the city and surrounding villages have also fallen, creating problems for rescue efforts. Roads have been blocked and communications efforts have been hampered by the collapse of mobile towers in the region.
Flood waters are one-foot deep in some parts of the city, AFP reports.
According to Mushtaq Ali Shah, director of the provincial meteorological department, the storm was a "mini cyclone with wind speeds of 110 kilometres per hour (68 miles per hour).” The agency expects heavy rains and windstorms to continue through Monday in the region.
The military has been called in to help with rescue efforts. Army General Asim Bajwa tweeted that miltary rescue teams have been dispatched to the area.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently in London, sent messages of condolences to the families affected. "He extended condolences to the aggrieved families and asked provincial government and disaster management authorities to gear up rescue efforts so as to control the damage," a statement from his office said.
This is the second time Peshawar has drawn international headlines in the past year. Taliban militants stormed an Army school in December, killing 145 people, mostly schoolchildren.