'Humanitarian crisis': Over 900 people killed in monsoon rains across the country since June, says minister
Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman on Wednesday revealed that over 900 people were killed during monsoon rains across Pakistan since June this year, while 1,293 were left injured.
"Heartbreaking scenes of rain and flood devastation are emerging from all over the country," she said in a series of tweets today. "Since June, 903 people, including 326 children and 191 women, have died in various incidents of monsoon rains and floods."
According to the data shared by the minister, the highest number of deaths and injuries during the time period was recorded in Sindh and Balochistan.
The PPP leader said that thousands of people had been displaced due to floods, claiming that a "humanitarian crisis" had arisen across the country.
Read more: Climate catastrophe
"The government is utilising all available resources to help the flood victims," she assured, stressing that the local administrations and provinces needed more resources to deal with the catastrophe.
Rehman underscored the need to meet the shortfall in resources, emphasising attracting partners and donors at the national and international levels.
"Thousands of people trapped in floods are waiting for rescue and relief. This is not the time for division, but for unity. We have to deal with and overcome the humanitarian crisis as a nation, not separately," she added.
Pakistan is currently in the grip of a monsoon system that has caused heavy rains and catastrophic flooding. Among the worst-hit provinces are Sindh and Balochistan where the downpour has broken a 30-year record.
Videos and photos emerging on social media show towns, villages, and cities inundated with no sign of life. Teams of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Army have been deployed in flood-affected areas across the country to rescue people.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb urged the nation to donate money for the rain-affected areas today, adding that donations could be deposited to the Prime Minister Relief Fund Account 2022.
“All commercial banks and their branches can collect donations in the Prime Minister Flood Relief Fund 2022 as per State Bank of Pakistan circular,” she said, adding that overseas Pakistanis can also send donations through wire transfers, money service bureaus, money transfer operators and exchange houses.
Her announcement comes a day after the government decided to launch an international appeal seeking funds for relief and rehabilitation of flood-hit people and restoration of damaged infrastructure.
The decision was taken during an urgent briefing on the flood emergency in NDMA, which was summoned to reassess the damage done by floods and to apprise the development partners and donors of the magnitude of the crisis.
Over 10m people rendered homeless in Sindh
Torrential rains have spelled disaster in the province as another devastating spell of monsoon rains continued in most districts on Aug 23. While urban centers were hit by flooding due to the slow pace of drainage of rainfall runoff, the rural areas witnessed massive losses to standing crops and lands.
Barring the Karachi division, the Sindh government has declared all 23 districts as calamity hits. The Sindh government's Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has reported 239 deaths and injuries to 836 people in the province so far.
Railway operations have been hit as well. Trains leaving from Karachi railway station are reaching their destination after a delay of seven to eight hours, according to Shakeel Ahmed Memon, chief controller of railways.
Earlier, at a press conference, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that over 10 million people had been rendered homeless, and over 1.5 million mud houses have been completely destroyed.
"I have never seen a greater catastrophe in my life," he said, vowing the Sindh government was using all of its funds but had run out of essentials such as tents and food.
Havoc in Balochistan
In Balochistan, monsoon rains continued to lash most districts in such as Dera Bugti, Khuzdar, Naseerabad, and Musakhel, according to the PDMA.
It said that a car, with five people on board, was washed away during the floods today near Sui. Three persons were rescued while a search operation was remaining for others.
In Khuzdar, a child died after a wall collapsed, while another woman lost her life in a similar incident in Naseerabad.
The traffic between Pakistan-Afghanistan at Chaman and Pakistan-Iran at Taftan also witnessed disruption due to the heavy downpour that damaged highways connecting the country with its neighbors. According to official sources, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Sohbatpur, Jhal Magsi, Kalat, Bolan, and Lasbela districts were facing heavy floods.
Punjab announces relief package for flood-hit areas
Rains have also ensued massive destruction in several areas of Punjab, particularly districts located in the southern parts of the province.
In a meeting of the Provincial Disaster Management today, the government of Punjab decided to give Rs1 million to people who had lost their loved ones during the rains. Meanwhile, Rs300,000 would be distributed to those severely injured.
The ministerial committee also reviewed the housing damage relief package and vowed to distribute cheques of Rs400,000 to people whose houses had been completely damaged during the monsoon downpour.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi had declared the flood-affected areas as disaster-struck.
Five children drown in Upper Dir flash floods
Earlier in the day, five students were washed away by a flash flood in the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PDMA confirmed.
The incident occurred in the Barawel area of the district bordering Afghanistan, in the jurisdiction of the Shahi Kot police station.
"The heavy rains caused a flash flood in the nullah that hit the students who were on their way back home," Deputy Commissioner Akmal Khan Khattak said, adding that police and rescue teams have retrieved three bodies from the drain and moved them to the hospital.
He said that the ages of the children ranged from seven to 11 years.
Separately, a child drowned in Swat later in the day after a cloud burst was reported in the area. In Mingora, rainwater entered several houses after heavy rain lashed the city.
Several students were stuck in schools and colleges after roads were inundated with waist-high waters. They were later rescued by PDMA officials.