Nearly 1,000 flood deaths in Pakistan monsoon season

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 on Saturday.

The new death toll came a day after Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif requested international assistance to fight deadly floods in the country.

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.

submerged streets

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.

WATCH | Pakistan appeals for international aid as monsoons lock down 33 million people:

Pakistan calls for international help as monsoons block 33 million people

In response to Sharif’s appeal for international assistance, the United Nations has planned a flash appeal for US$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.

Store swept

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.

Traders collect their belongings in post-deluge mud near their damaged shops following heavy monsoon rains in Mingora, a town in Pakistan’s northern Swat Valley, on Saturday. (Abdul Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

In the eastern province of Punjab, Rajan Pur district appears to be the hardest hit along with Dera Ghazi Khan district. Thousands of mud and brick houses were inundated by the waters, most of them completely demolished or at least partially destroyed.

Residents rendered homeless by the flood fled to higher ground, where they waited for relief and other aid.

Rahim Hasan, 52, said he lost his home and his two children, a daughter and a son aged 14 and 16 respectively.

« I have nothing left in life, my house was destroyed and my children swept away by the gushing water and now we lie helpless on this open road where the soldiers feed us, » he said .

The rain should continue

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.

Much of neighboring Afghanistan was also affected by heavy rains and flooding. Mohammad Nasim Haqqani, spokesman for the country’s national disaster management ministry, said at least seven people had been killed in the eastern province of Nangarhar in 24 hours and more than 600 others had been rescued by helicopters of the Ministry of Defence. The seven in addition to the 182 deaths announced died earlier in the week.


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