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Floods kill 23 in Pakistan financial hub amid house collapses, power cuts

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KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan’s flooded financial capital of Karachi was plunged into chaos on Friday with power cuts, streets under water and cellphone outages caused by heavy rain as authorities said at least 23 people had been killed in downpours the previous day.

Record torrential rainfall flooded major city streets and damaged homes and other buildings on Thursday, with more rain expected on Friday.

“At least 23 people, including women and children, died in different accidents like wall and roof collapses and drownings,” Ghulam Nabi Memon, Karachi’s police chief, told Reuters.

The provincial government declared a public holiday to avoid residents having to commute on Friday with Chundrigar Road, home to the central bank, stock exchange and head offices of several banks, flooded.

The Chief Minister of Sindh province, Murad Ali Shah, ordered schools be used to accommodate displaced families, whose homes had been damaged or were unreachable.

Among the victims, nine people, including four children, were killed when a wall collapsed on them, a spokesman for Shah said. A 56-year-old disabled woman drowned at home, according to a hospital official.

Cellphone services were disrupted and much of the city was plunged in darkness overnight with the main power utility company K-Electric saying the “unprecedented situation” was hampering efforts to restore electricity.

Oil refinery Pakistan Refinery Ltd said in a notice to the stock exchange that it was suspending operations due to hazards created by floods.

Pakistan’s Meteorological Department recorded 230.5 mm of rain in Karachi on Thursday, the highest ever recorded in a single day. Rainfall in August is the highest since records began 89 years ago.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Nick Macfie