Pakistan flooding: Deaths from ‘climate catastrophe’ rise above 1,000

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The unprecedented monsoon floods in Pakistan have claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people since mid-June, the authorities said on Sunday.

Nearly 100 people have died over this weekend alone, taking the death toll to 1,033 – including 348 children, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said.

The flooding has also left 1,527 injured in flood-related accidents across Pakistan.

A national emergency has been declared in the country as prime minister Shehbaz Sharif appealed to international partners to help relief efforts.

Experts have blamed the climate crisis for the exceptionally high number of cycles of monsoon rain in Pakistan this year. Sherry Rehman, the country’s climate change minister, called it a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions”, and a “serious climate catastrophe, one of the hardest in the decade”.

She said: “It is beyond the capacity of any one administration or government to rehabilitate and even manage the rescue and relief. We need all the help we can get.”

Disaster management officials said on Saturday that the average rainfall this year has been nearly three times the 30-year national average.

It noted that rainfall in Sindh province in Pakistan had been five times the average.

Thousands have been rendered homeless, and millions of others have lost access to electricity. Pakistan’s NDMA said that nearly half a million were living in damaged houses due to the floodwaters.

So far, across Pakistan, more than 500,000 people have been evacuated to relief camps and shelters.

Heartbreaking scenes have emerged of the devastation the floodwaters have wrecked across the country.

Children use a raft to make their way in a flooded area after heavy monsoon rains on the outskirts of Sukkur, Sindh province, on 27 August, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
Children use a raft to make their way in a flooded area after heavy monsoon rains on the outskirts of Sukkur, Sindh province, on 27 August, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Dawn newspaper reported that Mr Sharif and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited flood-hit areas in Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in northwest Pakistan, local authorities said that around 350,000 people were evacuated from Nowshera and Charsadda districts – the most flood-prone areas. And at least 14 were killed in flood-related incidents in Lower Dir, Mansehra and Kohistan.

The two leaders promised to make efforts to compensate and rehabilitate all those affected or displaced by floodwaters. Mr Sharif said: “All affected provinces of the country would get relief grants; Rs 38 billion have already been released by the federal government.”

An auto-rickshaw drives past temporary tents of people who fled their flood-hit homes set along a road in Sukkur, Sindh province, on 27 August, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
An auto-rickshaw drives past temporary tents of people who fled their flood-hit homes set along a road in Sukkur, Sindh province, on 27 August, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

On his Twitter, the prime minister wrote: “The magnitude of the calamity is bigger than estimated. Times demand that we come together as one nation to support our people facing this calamity. Let us rise above our differences & stand by our people who need us today.”

Pakistan Rai­l­ways has suspended operations from Lahore to Karachi until 31 August. Services are scheduled to resume from 1 September, although officials said this could be subject to change depending on the progress of maintenance work and improvement in the weather.