Islamabad – At least 27 people were killed when lighting struck in several places in Pakistan’s southern desert region amid heavy rains, officials said on Friday.
Local authorities declared an emergency and rushed rescuers to the Thar Desert in the province of Sindh after the overnight tragedy, Saeed Ghani, the provincial government’s spokesman Saeed Ghani said.
Several dozen people including women and children were being treated at hospitals, Ghani added. They sustained injuries caused by lightning and falling structures due to the rain.
At least three districts including Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur were hit by heavy rains from Thursday evening that continued into Friday, local rescue official Aslam Chandio said.
The death toll might increase as information was pouring in from remote villages still inaccessible for rescuers, said Anwar Kazmi, spokesman for Edhi charity that works in the region.
Flash floods, land erosion, cloudbursts, droughts and smog resulting in low air quality have been on the rise in Pakistan in recent years.
Sandwiched between highly industrialised China and India, Pakistan would have to bear the brunt of the global warming, climate expert Chaudhry Qamar Zaman said.
"Both the state and people will have to realise the gravity of the problem and act swiftly," Zaman added.