Floods crisis rapidly becoming national emergency: Officials

Published September 7, 2014
A Pakistani family stands inside their house following flooding in Rawalpindi. — Photo by Online
A Pakistani family stands inside their house following flooding in Rawalpindi. — Photo by Online
The roof of a house collapses due to heavy downpours in the Johar Town area of Lahore - PPI
The roof of a house collapses due to heavy downpours in the Johar Town area of Lahore - PPI

KARACHI/LAHORE: Sindh and Punjab are expected to face severe flooding in the coming days, the Pakistan Meteorological Department warned on Sunday. So far heavy monsoon rains and flash floods have killed 160 people across the country.

A press release issued by the Meteorological Department said that water levels in the Indus River at Sukkur and Guddu Barrage are constantly increasing, and consequently, there will be severe floods on September 13 and 14 in both provinces.

The department has called on government officials to take necessary rescue measures.

The annual monsoon season has struck hard across the region, leaving people to wade through rushing water in towns and villages across Pakistan

So far, 103 people have died in the eastern province of Punjab from the collapse of houses, flooding and electrocution, said Ali Imam Syed, a senior official in the province's rescue agency. He said more than 5,000 people had been rescued since Thursday, adding that three soldiers had gone missing during the rescue operation.

Ahmed Kamal, spokesman for Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority, said 48 people had died in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir and 11 in the adjacent Gilgit Baltistan area since the flooding began.

“Army helicopters and navy boats are rescuing people and taking them to safety from submerged villages in Punjab and affected areas of Kashmir,” Kamal said.

He said that the flooding had hit 286 villages in Punjab, as several rivers breached their banks, and that the crisis was rapidly becoming a “national emergency.

At least 300 federal rescue workers have joined thousands of state police and soldiers to rescue tens of thousands of people stranded across the region.

“The government will leave no stone unturned to help the people in distress,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.

Dozens of bridges have been damaged or washed away, and authorities fear the death toll may rise in the region as more flooding and rain is forecast for the coming days.


Army to the rescue


At least 500 people were moved to safe locations from flood-affected areas of Bajwat, an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

According to ISPR, 300 boats and five helicopters were being used to carry out relief operations, whereas army personnel were on high alert in areas of Multan and Dera Ismail Khan, which may come across the flood hit-line.

Pakistan Army’s relief operations in flood-affected areas of Sialkot, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, and Qadirabad were also in progress.


Flood: government imposes emergency across Punjab


Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday said a state of emergency has been declared to tackle the floods that followed heavy monsoon rains in several areas.

Up till now nearly 70 people were killed and 250 others injured in flood and heavy rain incidents across Punjab and several major national highways, have also been cut off, as relief work went underway.

Flash floods have inundated villages, prompting authorities to send troops to evacuate residents and assist in the emergency. Most of the deaths were caused by roof collapses, landslides and electric shocks.

Reports from different parts of the country have indicated huge losses to property, cattle and crops, especially in Sialkot and Gujranwala regions, due to swelling of nullahs and exceptionally high flooding in Chenab and Jhelum rivers.

According to AP, a government official said that 110 people were killed across the country in heavy monsoon downpours and flooding.

Authorities fear that the death toll may rise as more torrential rains and flooding is predicted in the upcoming days.

A number of cities received over 130mm of rain.

Pakistan regularly suffers from flooding during the monsoon season. In 2010, flash floods killed 1,700 people. In 2013, 178 people were killed and around 1.5 million affected by flooding.


Deadly floods hit Srinagar


Soldiers were battling Sunday to rescue thousands of people trapped in Indian Kashmir's worst flooding for half a century which has left more than 100 people dead and the main city of Srinagar under water.

Some 350 villages have also been submerged since torrential monsoon rains triggered flooding across the picturesque Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jhelum river, swollen by heavy rain, flooded large parts of Srinagar on Sunday and forced frantic residents onto rooftops, with reports the first floors of a children's hospital and of another hospital were underwater.

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