Nearly 1,000 dead in Pakistan from monsoon floods

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains across much of Pakistan have killed nearly 1,000 people and injured and displaced thousands more since mid-June, officials said Saturday.

The new death toll came a day after Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif requested international assistance to tackle deadly flood damage in the impoverished Islamic nation.

The monsoon season, which began in June, has hit Pakistan with particularly heavy rains this year and rescuers have struggled to evacuate thousands of stranded people from flood-hit areas. The crisis forced the government to declare a state of emergency.

In northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, floods destroyed the gates of an important water control system on the Swat River, leading to flooding in Charsadda and Nowshera districts, said Sania Safi, a high-level administrator in Charsadda.

“We anticipated the situation and warned and forced the reluctant residents to leave their homes for safety reasons and go to relief camps set up in government buildings in safe locations,” she said.

Safi said there are fears of a further rise in the Swat and Kabul rivers, adding to the misery of residents who have already suffered loss of life and property.

In Nowshera district, local administrator Quratul Ain Wazir said floodwaters submerged the streets before the gushing waters flowed to low-lying areas.

“Our administration evacuated many people and took others to relief camps where the government provided beds and food in safe buildings,” she said. … « We will use the police to force those who hesitate to leave their homes. »

Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb said soldiers and relief organizations were helping people get to safety in many districts in southern Sindh, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, eastern Punjab and southwestern Balochistan.

“The government has authorized sufficient funds to financially compensate those affected and we will not leave our people alone at this difficult time,” she said.

Aurangzeb called on wealthy people and aid organizations to come to the aid of flood-affected Pakistanis.

In response to Sharif’s appeal for international assistance, the United Nations has scheduled a flash appeal for $160 million for donations, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar. He said in his weekly briefing on Friday that the call would go out on August 30.

The scenic Kalam Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is one of the areas most affected by rains and floods. Overflowing river waters washed away entire buildings, including an iconic hotel.

« The situation is quite serious because we no longer have a road connection with the rest of the province, we have no electricity, gas and communication network and no help is coming here, » Muzaffar said. Khan, whose grocery store was washed away with many other stores.

Thousands of people whose homes were swept away are now living in tents, miles from their flooded villages and towns, after being rescued by soldiers, local rescuers and volunteers, authorities said.

In Balochistan, Asadullah Nasir, a spokesman for the provincial disaster management authority, said all 34 districts of the impoverished province have been badly affected due to heavy rains and subsequent flooding. He said road networks have been destroyed and bridges washed away and rescue is only possible with helicopters, which are often unable to operate due to bad weather. He said provincial authorities have confirmed 235 deaths, but the number is expected to rise significantly after communications are restored.

The National Disaster Management Authority, in its latest overnight report, said 45 people were killed in flood-related incidents from Friday to Saturday. This brought the death toll since mid-June to 982 with 1,456 injured.

Monsoon rains were expected to continue this week, mainly in the south and southwest. The season generally runs from July to mid-September in Pakistan.

Heavy rains and subsequent flash floods damaged bridges and the road network across Pakistan, disrupting fruit and vegetable supplies to markets and causing prices to rise.


Associated Press reporters Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Abdul Sattar in Quetta and Asim Tanveer in Multan, Pakistan contributed to this report.

Zarar Khan, The Associated Press


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