The death toll from monsoon floods in Pakistan has passed 1,000, as several countries, including Qatar and Iran, pledged emergency support in the wake of a flood described as a “humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions”.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Sunday said the death toll since June has reached 1,033 with 119 dead in the past 24 hours.
It warned of “extremely high” floods in some areas beside the Kabul and Indus rivers, notably in Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Kalabagh and Chashma in Punjab province.
Large parts of the country remain submerged – particularly the provinces of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunai and Sindh in the south – as torrential rains continue to engulf parts of the country. At least 347 people died in Sindh followed by Balochistan (238) and KB (226).
The annual monsoon is essential to irrigate crops and replenish lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but every year it also brings a wave of devastation. This year, rainfall in some areas was 600 percent above average.
Sherry Rehman, the Pakistani senator and the country’s top climate official, said in a video posted on Twitter that Pakistan is experiencing a “serious climate disaster, which is one of the hardest in the decade”.
“We are currently at ground zero on the frontline of extreme weather events, in a relentless series of heat waves, wildfires, flash floods, multiple eruptions of glacial lakes, flood events, and now the brutal monsoons of this decade are unending. Stop the chaos in all over the country.”
Officials say this year’s catastrophic floods have affected more than 33 million people – one in seven Pakistanis – destroying crops, livestock and nearly a million homes.
The National Disaster Management Administration said more than 809,000 hectares (two million acres) of planted crops had been destroyed, 3,451 kilometers (2,150 miles) of roads were destroyed, and 149 bridges were swept away.
Khaista Rahman, 55, who has nothing to do with the climate minister, took refuge with his wife and three children on the side of the Islamabad-Peshawar highway after his home in Charsadda sank overnight.
“Thank God, we are now safe on this very high road from the flooded area,” he said. “Our crops are lost and our house destroyed, but I am thankful to God that we are alive and I will bring my children back to life.”
The government has declared the devastating floods a “national emergency” and is seeking assistance from friendly countries.
We are witnessing complete destruction – hundreds of thousands of homes collapsed, and more than a thousand injured. “This is clearly a massive humanitarian and climate emergency,” said Khurram Gondal, Country Director of Save the Children.
In a report from Charsada district in northern Pakistan, Kama Haider of Al Jazeera said rescue efforts are being further complicated by “ice-cold” water temperatures, with most of the floodwaters coming from mountainous areas.
“The water is flowing and submerging the villagers and this is of course a serious threat,” he said. “There is extensive damage to the property…People are sheltering under the plastic sheeting over the poles. They have told us that they are being helped by the locals who are bringing them food and water. However, they say they are in dire need of tents and tarpaulins.”
– Ahmer Khan (@ahmermkhan) August 27 2022
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has postponed an official visit to the United Kingdom, as he called for funds from friendly countries and international institutions.
Sharif visited flood victims in Jafarabad city in Balochistan on Sunday. He pledged that the government would provide housing for all those who lost their homes.
On Saturday, Sharif delivered relief supplies to those affected in the flood-stricken Sindh province. He was seen dropping relief packages from a helicopter at people below. Earlier on Saturday, the prime minister conducted a survey of the damage in the province and met the displaced at a relief camp.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – among other leaders – spoke to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif about the horrific flood situation.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his support for Pakistan. “France is ready to help,” he said in a tweet on Twitter.
The Qatar Red Crescent Society announced, on Saturday, the allocation of 100,000 dollars to flood victims.
Climate Minister Rahman told Turkish news outlet TRT World that by the time the rains recede, “we could have a quarter or a third of Pakistan’s area under water.”
“This is something that is a global crisis and of course we will need better planning and sustainable development on the ground … We will need climate-resilient crops and structures,” she said.