Floods wreak havoc across Pakistan; 903 dead since mid-June

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Heavy rains have triggered flash floods and wreaked havoc across much of Pakistan since mid-June, leaving 903 people dead and around 50,000 people homeless, the disaster management agency said Wednesday. from the country.

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.

The National Disaster Management Authority said on Wednesday that 126 people had been killed in flood-related incidents in the past 48 hours, with most of the victims being women and children.

The floods have further aggravated Pakistan’s economic crisis. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif issued an appeal from abroad on Wednesday, urging philanthropists to help flood-affected areas in Pakistan.

Sharif is currently in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where he arrived on Tuesday, seeking financial aid, loans and foreign investment for his cash-strapped Islamic nation. His government promised to compensate those who lost their homes in the floods.

After speaking with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Wednesday, Sharif announced that the Qatari Investment Authority was ready to invest $3 billion in Pakistan. The trip is Sharif’s first official visit to Qatar as prime minister since replacing Imran Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence in parliament in April.

After inundating much of southwestern Balochistan and eastern Punjab province, flash floods have now started affecting southern Sindh province as well. Authorities closed schools in Sindh and Balochistan this week.

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister, tweeted on Tuesday that local authorities were unable to cope on their own and called on the global community to help.

Pakistani television footage on Wednesday showed people wading through waist-deep water, holding their children and carrying essential items on their heads. Rescuers used trucks and boats to evacuate people to safer locations, and food, tents and other basic supplies were sent to flood-affected areas.

In some places, the popular Geo TV reported, families struggled to bury loved ones as local cemeteries were also inundated by floodwaters. Television broadcast footage showed mourners carrying coffins through flooded areas to bury the dead away from submerged homes.

Monsoon rains, which began in mid-June, were expected to continue this week, mainly in the south.

Sindh province’s top elected official Murad Ali Shah said the situation was worse than in 2010, when floods killed at least 1,700 people in Pakistan, mostly in Sindh. “We are doing our best to evacuate people from flood-affected areas,” he said on Tuesday.

The floods have damaged up to 129 bridges across Pakistan, disrupting fruit and vegetable supplies to markets and causing prices to rise.

Experts say climate change has caused erratic weather in Pakistan, leading to downpours and melting glaciers that have swelled rivers. They say limiting emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases will help limit more drastic weather events around the world, including in the South Asian country.

“In the past decades, we have never witnessed such an intense and unusual downpour in Pakistan,” said scientist Shahla Gondal, adding that authorities are ill-equipped and “don’t know how to deal” with the storms. floods.

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