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Severe windstorm kills 36, injures hundreds in Pakistan

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A major thunderstorm accompanied with torrential downpours and intense wind gusts swept parts of Pakistan on June 1 and 2, 2016, leaving a widespread trail of destruction. At least 36 people were killed, and more than 100 injured. According to media reports, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) failed to issue an adequate severe weather warning prior to the event and is now required to submit a written explanation on the matter.

The weather system, a mixture of dust and thunderstorms, began affecting Punjab, the Islamabad Capital Territory, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the evening of June 1 (local time), according to the Prime Minister's Office. 11 people died and numerous injured in weather-related incidents on the occasion. On June 2, the storm swept the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, and portions of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. 

Wind gusts over 150 km/h (93.2 mph) have been observed across the affected areas.

Video credit: Channel 24

Video credit: Ali Haider Malik

Inflicted damage is severe, and includes uprooted trees, downed power poles, and devastated homes. In total, 12 people died in Islamabad, 16 in Rawalpindi, and 8 in other areas. Traffic was severely disrupted and numerous flights at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport were canceled or delayed. 

The Prime Minister's Office issued a notice to Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), looking for an official, written explanation as to why no severe weather warning has been issued.

“Dust / thunderstorm which hit parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and the Islamabad Capital Territory late in the evening on 1st June 2016 had started gathering in the sky around mid-afternoon. This was clearly visible even to the naked eye in Islamabad at around 4:00 P.M. And yet the Meteorological Department of Pakistan, despite modern equipment and technology available to it, failed to either forecast, or to issue and adequate warning, regarding the impending storm, which resulted in the loss of so many precious lives, injuries and damage to property and installations.”

Featured image credit: Ali Haider Malik

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