Rescue operations continue as KP areas remain cut off due to floods

Published August 28, 2022
<p>Army personnel rescue people in relief operations in Dera Ismail Khan/Tank on Sunday. — APP</p>

Army personnel rescue people in relief operations in Dera Ismail Khan/Tank on Sunday. — APP

<p>Army personnel rescue people in relief operations in Dera Ismail Khan/Tank on Sunday. — APP</p>

Army personnel rescue people in relief operations in Dera Ismail Khan/Tank on Sunday. — APP

<p>Army personnel engaged in relief operations in Dera Ismail Khan/Tank on Sunday. — APP</p>

Army personnel engaged in relief operations in Dera Ismail Khan/Tank on Sunday. — APP

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Kohistan tehsil was reeling on Sunday as officials continued to call for help in rescuing people stranded in areas "completely cut off" due to the deadly floods that have laid waste to lives and infrastructure across the country.

A day earlier, some 350,000 people were evacuated from Charsadda and Nowshera as powerful flash floods in the province caused the Kabul River to swell, sweeping away a large bridge overnight and cutting off some districts from road access.


Today's developments - Death toll since mid-June tops 1,000 - Kandia tehsil officials seek help - Forty tourists rescued from Kumrat and shifted to Upper Dir and Swat, several still stranded - Evacuations continue - Sindh braces for fresh deluge from swollen rivers in the north - PM Shehbaz receives briefing in Balochistan; announces Rs10bn for province - COAS visits Sindh - Schools to remain closed in Balochistan from Monday (August 29) to Friday (September 2) - Bilawal hopes IMF will take economic fallout of floods into account


The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said the death toll from the monsoon rains had reached 1,033 since mid-June, with 119 killed in the previous 24 hours.

The chairman of Upper Kohistan's Kandia tehsil, Anwar Ul Haq, told Dawn.com today that Kandia has been "completely cut-off" from the rest of Kohistan's areas and there are no mobile phone signals.

He added that locals made their way through perilous conditions on foot — with some travelling for two days — and informed him that an estimated 2,000 houses had been washed away in the floods.

Haq said there is an acute need for food and medicine in Kandia as cases of diarrhoea have surged.

Relief efforts: How to help Pakistanis affected by the floods

Separately, Lower Kohistan Assistant Commissioner Saqib Khan told Dawn.com that the military has been requested to fly in helicopters to rescue stranded families there since "there is no road route, the communication system and electricity in the affected areas [has broken down]".

Hours later, Saqib Khan said that the helicopter had arrived. "With the grace of God our rescue is here, and the electricity has been restored."

There were also reports that 11 people were stranded due to flood waters in Lower Kohistan's Kayal valley, Rescue 1122 spokesperson Farman Afridi told Dawn.com.

Rescue workers attempt to reach people trapped due to floods in Lower Kohistan on Sunday.—Rescue 1122 Lower Kohistan
Rescue workers attempt to reach people trapped due to floods in Lower Kohistan on Sunday.—Rescue 1122 Lower Kohistan

He said teams have been scrambled there under the supervision of District Emergency Officer Sajid Ali Yousafzai and Assistant Commissioner Saqib Khan and a rescue operation was underway.

In the evening, Assistant Commissioner Khan said 11 people were rescued in the Kayal valley, where a rescue operation, led by the district emergency officer, was completed after five house.

In a statement issued late in the evening, the military's media affairs wing said an individual stranded in a flood in Kohistan had been rescued by the Pakistan Army and aviation pilots.

"An emergency call was made by the Kohistan administration . Responding immediately, the Mangla GOC (general officer commanding division) and Mangla commander brigade who were on a flood assessment mission near Pattan diverted from original flight to save the previous life," the statement said, adding that had the officials not reached on time, the individual would have drowned.

"The pilots made a daring attempt, lowered the helicopter and the officers and crew lifted the individual safely," the ISPR statement said.

Evacuations continue

Today morning, Pakistan Army aviation helicopters flew four sorties to rescue stranded people.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), 110 stranded people have been evacuated from Khawazakhela to Kanju Cantonment, Swat.

"These stranded people are being provided meals and necessary medical care," ISPR said in a statement.

Stranded people who are struck at a mountaintop in Kumrat will be evacuated by army helicopters especially flown from Kamju cantonment Swat as soon as the weather permits, it added.

A view of rescued people inside an army helicopter on August 28. — ISPR
A view of rescued people inside an army helicopter on August 28. — ISPR

Hours later, ISPR said the first team of Pakistan Army troops had reached the Khana Bodosh site where these families were struck. "The follow-up army troops have crossed Barikot. Pakistan army aviation helicopters have flown and are on their way to the location," it added in a statement.

ISPR also shared contact details of a Flood Relief Control Centre established by the Dir Scouts.

In case of emergency or if assistance is required, please reach out to the Dir scouts Flood Relief control room on the following numbers:

  • Mobile 1: 03091311310
  • Mobile 2: 03235780067
  • Landline: 0945-825526

An evening update by the ISPR said the military had conducted 62 helicopter sorties in flood affected areas of the country thus far.

It said that seven army helicopters were used to conduct 20 sorties and evacuated 246 stranded individuals over the past 24 hours.

Moreover, 14.71 tons of ration tons of ration/ relief items, 7,845 ration packets and 1,600 tents were distributed in flood-affected areas during the past 24 hours, the ISPR said, adding that 29,205 patients were treated at medical camps so far.

The ISPR said that 217 relief item collection points had been established in all Formations Area of Responsibility.

Syed Aqil Shah, a tour operator, told Dawn.com that 40 Tourists stranded in Kumrat valley were rescued and shifted to Upper Dir and Swat, however, several were still stranded and waiting for rescue.

"I am in regular contact with the stranded tourists and they need urgent help," he said, adding that roads were completely washed away and hotel owners faced a shortage of food items.

"I spoke to a family there [in Kumrat]. They all gathered in one hotel and hotels [have] run out of food and other items. A tourist informed me that they are hungry and ate nothing," he added.

Shah appealed to the government to arrange food items for the stranded tourists.

Meanwhile, eight people trapped by the Swat River at Khawazakhela were evacuated to safety in overnight rescue efforts, Rescue 1122 Swat spokesperson Shafiqa Gul told Dawn.com.

She added that at least 50 people including women and children were shifted to safe places over the past night.

In Bisham, one of two boys stranded in the middle of Bisham Khan Khwar river was rescued after a two-hour rescue effort, Sheraz Khan, station in-charge of Rescue 1122 Bisham told Dawn.com.

Later, Rescue 1122 personnel rescued 32 individuals in Swat's Takhtaband area, Rescue 1122 official Shafiqa Gul told Dawn.com.

Separately in Shangla, three children were injured when the roof of a house collapsed due to heavy rain, Rescue 1122 focal person Rasool Khan told Dawn.com.

He said the children were shifted to the district headquarter hospital in Alpuri.

PDMA report

A Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) report issued after 9pm on Sunday said one person was killed as a result of rain-induced flooding in Charsadda over the past 12 hours.

The report said 21 houses were completely damaged in the district during this period while a total of 1,860 people were rescued in Charsadda and Babuzai.

Meanwhile, 60 people were rescued in Upper Dir via helicopters, the report added.

The PDMA said 36 relief camps had been set up in four districts of KP, where 745 tents were distributed, among other relief items and food packages.

River water levels remain high at Nowshera, Warsak

Separately, the provincial government's flood cell said the Kabul River's water levels at Nowshera and Warsak were "very high" and "high", respectively.

"Floodwater of 336,461 cusecs is currently passing through Nowshera, while floodwater of 109,000 cusecs is passing through Warsak," an evening update by the flood cell said.

A man swims in flood waters while heading for higher ground, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Charsadda on August 27, 2022.—Reuters/Fayaz Aziz
A man swims in flood waters while heading for higher ground, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Charsadda on August 27, 2022.—Reuters/Fayaz Aziz

"Floodwater of 58,692 cusecs is passing through Adinzai bridge," the cell said in a statement.

The flood cell warned that the water level of the River Indus was also high. Floodwater of 539,400 cusecs and 244,500 cusecs was currently passing through Attock and Tarbela, the statement said.

At the same time, floodwater from the Swat River of 60,000 cusecs was passing through Munda Headworks, it added.

Meanwhile, the ISPR said that light to moderate rains were recorded across the country on Sunday, with Malam Jabba (58mm) receiving the maximum amount rainfall.

It added that the flow of water in Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab and Sutlej Rivers was normal.

PM announces Rs10bn for Balochistan

PM Shehbaz speaks to the media. — DawnNewsTV
PM Shehbaz speaks to the media. — DawnNewsTV

Talking to the media in Balochistan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced a grant of Rs10 billion for the province. He said the NDMA and provincial authorities would make a plan on whether to give the money to those whose crops were destroyed or to rebuild roads and houses.

"I am 100 per cent confident that the government will give you your right with full honesty."

In addition, every flood-affected family would be given Rs25,000, which would be disbursed within a week, he said.

Shehbaz said he would preside over a meeting in Islamabad tomorrow in which the government would decide on short and medium-term plans to deal with the floods. "Whether it is rain-induced flood or rivers overflowing, this [rebuilding] work cannot be done through slogans and levelling accusations. We must work night and day to become like countries that have prevented floods through technology."

The prime minister also spoke about the destruction caused by the floods, saying he had "never seen this kind of flooding in my life before".

He thanked the chief ministers, chief secretaries and teams working to rescue flood-affected families. He shared that the presidents of Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates spoke to him last night and offered their countries' help.

"Planes [carrying relief goods] have departed Turkey today and are about to reach Karachi. A plane from UAE will reach Islamabad. Other friendly countries are also sending messages. The British government announced 1.5 million pounds. We are thankful to them for sending aid to Pakistanis in this difficult time."

He also appealed to the country's well-to-do people to help their fellow citizens.

"I have also spoken to the army and naval chiefs and they said they have issued instructions and their teams are on the ground. I spoke to the air chief last night and he gave me details of helicopters that are on rescue missions," he added.

Later, Balochistan Education Minister Naseebullah Murree announced that schools in the province would remain closed for another five days, from Monday (August 29) to Friday (September 2).

The minister said in a statement that the decision was taken keeping in view the destruction caused by floods and rains.

He added that flood water had entered most government schools in the province while the buildings of public schools and colleges in several districts were being used to house people displaced due to floods.

Punjab

A separate aerial relief operation was undertaken by the Pakistan Army in Punjab's District Rajanpur today, the ISPR said in an afternoon update.

"Aid in the shape of ration bags and tents was provided to the affectees," it said, adding that the army continued rescue and relief operations in all flood-hit areas of districts Layyah, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.

Pakistan Army teams rescued a number of people, including women and children, stranded in the affected areas, ISPR said, adding along with their belongings they were shifted to safer places.

"People living in relief camps are being provided with cooked food and dry rations," it added.

"Pakistan Army is utilising all available resources to help the flood-affected people including immediate medical care at the medical camps set up by army."

Sindh

Meanwhile, already flooded Sindh province braced for a fresh deluge from swollen rivers in the north.

The mighty Indus River is fed by dozens of mountain tributaries to the north, but many have burst their banks following record rains and glacier melt.

Officials warned torrents of water are expected to reach Sindh in the next few days, adding misery to millions already affected by the floods.

“Right now, Indus is in high flood,” said Aziz Soomro, the supervisor of a barrage that regulates the river's flow near Sukkur.

In parts of Sindh, the only dry land are the elevated roads and rail tracks, alongside which tens of thousands of poor rural folk have taken shelter with their livestock.

Near Sukkur, a row of tents stretched for two kilometres, with people still arriving by boats loaded with wooden charpoy beds and pots and pans — the only possessions they could salvage.

“Water started rising in the river from yesterday, inundating all the villages and forcing us to flee,” labourer Wakeel Ahmed, 22, told AFP.

Barrage supervisor Soomro told AFP every sluice gate was open to deal with a river flow of more than 600,000 cubic metres per second.

Islamabad

While the capital Islamabad and adjoining Rawalpindi have escaped the worst of the flooding, its effects were still being felt.

“Currently supplies are very limited,” said Muhammad Ismail, a produce shopkeeper in Rawalpindi.

“Tomatoes, peas, onions and other vegetables are not available due to the floods,” he told AFP, adding prices were also soaring.

Civil, military leadership's visits to Balochistan, Sindh

Prime Minister Shehbaz reached Balochistan's Jaffarabad district to oversee flood relief operations there. Earlier, state news agency APP tweeted a photograph of him with Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo with the caption that he had reached Sukkur on his way to Jaffarabad.

While there, he received a briefing from the Balochistan chief secretary on relief and rehabilitation activities for the flood victims in Village Haji Allah Dino, District Jaffarabad.

Separately, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited flood-hit areas of Sindh today, the military's media wing said in a statement.

According to a statement issued by the ISPR, the army chief visited army troops engaged in relief activities in the far flung flood-affected areas of Khairpur and Qambar-Shahdadkot districts.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visits flood-affected areas in Sindh. — ISPR
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visits flood-affected areas in Sindh. — ISPR

The statement said the COAS spent the whole day with flood victims in relief and medical camps in the Jilani village, Khairpur and Qambar-Shahdadkot.

"Flood victims in Khairpur and Qambar-Shahdadkot thanked the COAS for reaching out to them and sharing their problems and discomfort due to floods," the statement said.

It added that Gen Bajwa also met troops on ground and appreciated their efforts for bringing comfort to the people awaiting their support.

"Helping the people of Pakistan in need is a noble cause and we must take pride to serve them to best of our abilities," the statement quoted the COAS as saying.

Relief goods

The government announced that relief goods from the United Arab Emirates will arrive today at 4:30 pm.

On the appeal of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the plane carrying the first batch of relief goods from the UAE will reach Noor Khan Airbase today, the government said on its official Twitter handle.

Another 15 planes from the UAE will reach Pakistan in the next few days.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said two aircraft from Turkiye carrying relief goods would arrive in Karachi tomorrow (Monday).

“The Consul General of Turkiye in Karachi will hand over the relief goods to the Pakistani authorities at the airport tomorrow morning,” she said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

The relief goods include tents, medicines and other items.

She said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif informed Turkish President Recep Erdogan about the devastation caused by the floods in the country in a telephone conversation on Saturday.

Aurangzeb said more relief goods were also expected from Turkiye.

Bilawal hopes IMF will take economic fallout of floods into account

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan needed financial help to deal with "overwhelming" floods, expressing hope that financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund would take the economic fallout into account.

"I haven't seen destruction of this scale, I find it very difficult to put into words ... it is overwhelming," said Bilawal in an interview with Reuters, adding many crops that provided much of the population's livelihoods had been wiped out.

"Obviously this will have an effect on the overall economic situation," he said. "Going forward, I would expect not only the IMF, but the international community and international agencies to truly grasp the level of devastation."

Bilawal said the economic impact was still being assessed, but that some estimates had put it at $4 billion. Given the impact on infrastructure and people's livelihoods, he said he expected the total figure would be much higher.

Pakistan would this week launch an appeal asking United Nations member states to contribute to relief efforts, he said, and the country needed to look at how it would handle the longer term impacts of climate change.

"In the next phase, when we look towards rehabilitation and reconstruction, we will have conversations not only with the IMF, but with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank,” Bilawal said.


Additional information from AFP and Reuters

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