At least 37 people were killed as heavy rains and strong winds tore through north-west Pakistan on Sunday, uprooting trees and collapsing buildings, officials have said.
The storm also injured over 200 people, provincial information minister Mushtaq Ghani said. According to Lutfur Rehman, a local disaster management official, winds reached up to 75 mph.
Pakistan typically experiences such rains during its monsoon season in June and July. “It was very unusual. It took people by surprise,” Rehman said of Sunday’s weather.
An emergency was declared at all local hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is the capital.
The rain began on Sunday afternoon and caused heavy damage to the region’s infrastructure, said city commissioner Munir Azam. All flight operations at the Peshawar airport were suspended because more rain was expected overnight.
The Pakistani army said troops had been sent to the area to launch rescue and relief operations.
Rescuers rushed victims to hospitals but roads submerged in water hindered their operations. Ambulances and rescue vehicles struggled to enter some areas due to fallen trees and electric poles.
Residents carried some of the injured on their backs to cars heading to hospitals.
“Nobody is coming to our help,” said Ansar Khan, who said his family was buried under the rubble of a collapsed building.