The San Juan Daily Star
Pakistan hit by deadly floods of ‘epic proportions’
By Austin Ramzy
Devastating floods have surged across Pakistan, overflowing riverbanks and bridges, inundating houses and fields and killing more than 100 people over the weekend, officials said late Saturday.
The floods, which have been driven by unusually heavy monsoon rains, have killed more than 1,000 people since mid-June, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority said.
Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister, called the flooding a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster” of “epic proportions.”
“It is beyond the capacity of any one administration or government to rehabilitate and even manage the rescue and relief,” she said, calling for greater international assistance. “We need all the help we can get.”
Record flooding has inundated spots all along the Indus River, which runs the length of the country, including at the Tarbela Dam in the north of the country and Kotri, a riverside city more than 600 miles to the south. The Kabul and Swat rivers in northern Pakistan have also seen extremely high water levels.
Rainfall has been nearly three times the 30-year nationwide average, the disaster agency said Saturday. In Sindh province, which borders the Arabian Sea to the south, rainfall is nearly five times the average.
Syed Murad Ali Shah, chief minister of Sindh, said vast areas had been affected by flooding. “It seems like the entire Indus River has overflowed across Sindh,” he told Geo News, a television news broadcaster in Pakistan.
Nearly 1 million homes have been damaged since mid-June, including more than 260,000 in the past day, the disaster management agency said late Saturday.
More than 33 million people have been affected by flooding this summer, the agency said, with more than 50,000 rescued and close to 500,000 now living in relief camps.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said: “The magnitude of the calamity is bigger than estimated.” He wrote on Twitter that while a full picture of the destruction was still being compiled, the continuing rain had “caused devastation across the country” with loses comparable to catastrophic flooding in 2010. That disaster affected 18 million people and killed 1,985.
Rehman posted a video on Twitter from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province in the northwest, that showed roaring floodwaters nearing the top of a bridge. The bridge had been rebuilt 5 meters higher — about 16 feet — after it was destroyed during record flooding in 2010, she said.
“Now the water is inundating the bridge,” she wrote. “They thought they were building back better by raising it much higher.”