Rescue and relief efforts continued in Sindh’s flood-hit Dadu district on Thursday, with water up to “eight to nine feet” high in several areas, according to an official, as Pakistanis brace for another spell of above-normal rains this month.
Abnormal heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers triggered floods that have submerged a third of the country and killed at least 1,191 people, including 399 children since June 14, National Disaster Management Authority’s daily update showed. Twenty-seven more people died in the previous 24 hours.
- Nearly 1,200 killed since June 14, says NDMA; 21 deaths reported in last 24 hours
- Rescue and relief activities under way in Dadu, with water up to “eight to nine feet” in some places
- Johi cut off from Dadu city
- Authorities say over 4,000 tourists are stranded in Kalam, other areas of KP
- COAS visits flood-hit areas of Punjab
- Met Office predicts more but less intense rain this month
- UAE starts delivery of the first tranche of aid
- Electricity supply disrupted as 13 transmission towers washed away, says Qesco official
- Over 3m children are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, malnutrition and drowning, says Unicef; UN agency appeals for $37m; UK announces more aid
In Sindh’s Dadu district, parts of which have been inundated due to waters coming in from the north, Khairpur Nathan Shah has been the hardest hit so far.
“Flood water is standing eight to nine foot high in Khairpur Nathan Shah city,” Dadu District Commissioner Murtaza Ali told Dawn.com.
He added that the military and paramilitary Rangers were assisting relief efforts. “Rangers DG Major General Iftikhar Hassan and Brigadier Hasanat and Ijaz from the Pakistan Army are [leading] the relief operation,” Ali added.
He added that Johi, located at a distance of eight kilometres, had been cut off from Dadu city in the aftermath of flash floods.
Some 60 kilometres north, residents of Mehar gathered to form new dikes and reinforce existing ones using sandbags near a major highway that was deluged by water overnight.
“We have been working to make and reinforce this dike since early morning,” Damshad Ali, 20, told Reuters, vowing to stay in the flood-stricken area with his family.
Nearby, another man called for help.
“I appeal to all young men to come join the dike strengthening, God willing we will save the city of Mehar from the flood waters,” he said from a mound of sandbags, as local residents joined the effort.
A day ago, DC Shah had told Dawn.com that the water level was rising in the Main Nara Valley drain in Khairpur Nathan Shah and Johi talukas.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also accompanied diplomats from over 20 countries on a flight over the flooded regions in Sindh yesterday and told them the province urgently needed Rs860 billion to reconstruct collapsed houses, repair roads and revive agriculture destroyed by unrelenting heavy rains and subsequent flooding.
As a result of the recent catastrophe, 24 districts with 102 talukas and 5,727 dehs have been declared calamity-hit in the province, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was told yesterday.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a brewing health crisis, reporting that at least 888 health facilities have been damaged in rain-induced floods that have affected 116 out of 154 districts across the country.
Over 33 million people were affected out of which 6.4 million people, including 421,000 people displaced by floods, were in dire need of humanitarian aid, the WHO said.
Situation in KP
In KP’s Kohistan region, the residents of Dubair and Kandia complain of facing difficulties, saying that the two areas being disconnected from the rest of the country.
A resident of Upper Dubair, Hamesh Gul, spoke to Dawn.com while carrying his daughter on his shoulders, who he said had been suffering from cholera for the past week.
He said the resident from these areas had to travel for four to five hours to access health facilities and upon reaching there, they would come to know most times that the facilities had run short of medicine.
Khan said yesterday a woman died while being carried to a hospital in Bisham, Shangla on a charpoy.
Another resident, Hafeez Ur Rehman, from Upper Kohistan’s Kandia area said that people have started repairing roads in the district themselves on a self-help basis.
“The reconstruction of roads is the only way to rehabilitate the area and bring in help,” he told Dawn.com
Meanwhile, a statement by the Swat DC Office said efforts to rescue stranded tourists from Kalam and shift them to safer spots were afoot.
The statement said the land route to the area had been cut off due to the damage caused to roads and bridges and over 4,000 tourists were stranded in Kalam and other areas.
Helicopters of the Pakistan Army and KP government were being used for the rescue operation, the statement added.
Separately, Qari Bilal, a social activist from Kalam, told Dawn.com that the area residents had begun reconstructing the Kalam road on a self-help basis as the “government has failed to start the [rehabilitation] work” so far.
Situation in Balochistan
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili assured on Thursday afternoon that life, which had been paralysed across the province in the aftermath of floods, would return to normalcy in three to four hours.
The Balochistan government had declared on Wednesday 32 out of the total 34 provincial districts “calamity-hit”.
Moreover, Balochistan chief minister’s adviser Mir Ziaullah Langove said in a press conference alongside Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Director General Naseer Ahmed Nasar that since monstrous rains that started in June, at least 254 people had been killed in the province and 1.3m people had been forced to relocate.
The officials said at least 10 districts — Quetta, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Sohbatpur, Jhal Magsi, Bolan (Kachhi) Khuzdar, Lasbela, Qila Saifullah and Qila Abdullah — were particularly hit hard by the unprecedented floods that levelled crops and destroyed thousands of houses.
As the province reeled from the impact of devastating floods on Thursday, the public relations officer at the Quetta Electric Supply Corporation, Muhammad Afzal, said the electricity supply was disrupted as 13 transmission towers had been washed away by floods.
COAS visits flood-affected areas of Punjab
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the flood-hit areas of Rajanpur and Dera Ismail Khan today.
According to a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief overviewed activities underway at relief camps in the Rojhan district of Rajanpur and met flood victims.
“He assured flood affectees that the Pakistan Army will help them overcome their problems in these difficult times,” the military’s media wing said.
The COAS also consoled met residents of Dera Ismail Khan and lauded their resilience in the face of unprecedented natural calamity.
Furthermore, he directed the troops of Frontier Corps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to ensure timely assistance and help the people of the province in this hour of need.
Earlier, in an update, the military’s media affairs wing said so far, 157 army helicopter sorties had been flown to evacuate stranded individuals from flood-hit areas and transport rations.
The ISPR said 1,087 stranded individuals had been rescued thus far, while 72 tons of relief items had been delivered through army aviation.
“More than 50,000 individuals have been shifted to safer locations from calamity-hit areas,” the ISPR said, adding that over 51,000 patients had been treated at medical camps set up by the army, where free medicine doses for three to five days had been provided to patients.
The military has established 221 relief item collection points across the country, according to the ISPR, and 1,231 tons of items have been collected and dispatched from these points.
Moreover, 25,000 packs of ready-to-eat meals had been provided to flood-affected people.
The ISPR further said the Frontier Works Organisation, along with the National Highway Authority, had ensured the timely restoration of communication infrastructure, including the repair of the Karakoram Highway and Jaglot-Skardu Road.
Engineer and medical troops/resources had been moved to Karachi to augment rescue/relief operations in Sindh, it added.
Meanwhile, the army’s flood control helplines — 1125 for KP and 1135 for the rest of Pakistan — remain functional.
PM Shehbaz orders immediate repair of roads
At a press conference later in the day, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the prime minister had ordered the immediate repair of the Swat-Kalam road, among others.
She said that the premier had announced grants of Rs15 billion for Sindh and Rs 10 billion for Balochistan and KP each. “So far, 600,000 families affected by the floods have received Rs25,000.”
Furthermore, Aurangzeb added that the PDMA and NDMA had been instructed to conduct a damage survey of all the areas across the country.
Separately, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs Qamar Zaman Kaira said that rain had caused massive destruct in several areas of Gilgit-Baltistan as well where several people were killed and crops spread over acres were destroyed.
At a media talk in Islamabad, he said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit the region tomorrow (Friday) and announce a relief package for the flood affectees.
Over 3m children at risk of waterborne diseases, malnutrition: Unicef
Separately, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) said in a statement that more than three million children were in need of humanitarian assistance in Pakistan and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to “the most severe flooding” in the country’s recent history.
“These floods have already taken a devastating toll on children and families, and the situation could become even worse,” the statement quoted Unicef representative in Pakistan Abdullah Fadil as saying.
“In affected areas, 30 per cent of water systems were estimated to have been damaged, further increasing the risk of disease outbreaks with people resorting to open defecation and drinking unsafe water,” the statement read, adding that cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases had already been reported.
Unicef is working with government and non-government partners to respond to the urgent needs of children and families in affected areas, the statement said.
The UN agency appealed for $37 million for Pakistan to cope with the crisis.
More aid pours in
Given the scale of destruction and following appeals for assistance by the government, several nations have pledged support for Pakistan and the United Nations has launched a $160m flash appeal to help the country cope with floods.
On Wednesday, the Asian Development Bank approved a grant of $3m and more international aid came in the form of food and equipment, particularly from Turkiye and China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrived in the flood-hit country.
According to the state-run APP, as many as 16 consignments of relief goods and equipment were delivered.
In a related development, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted on Thursday that the UAE had begun the delivery of the first tranche of relief goods worth $50m.
He added that he had held a telephone call with Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan last night during which the UAE president had assured him of continued assistance for flood victims.
In response to PM Shehbaz’s tweet, the UAE embassy in Pakistan said: “We affirm the commitment to stand by the people of Pakistan in the current challenges of floods, embodying the humanitarian role set by our founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, we thank the partners in Pakistan for their cooperation to deliver aid to the affectees.”
Later in the day, the United Kingdom announced further urgent life-saving support to Pakistan.
Humanitarian support totalling £15 million from the UK will help provide shelter and essential supplies to people across the country, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. The latest funding comes after the UK provided £1.5 million for the disaster affectees last weekend.
“We are seeing first-hand the tragic effects of climate change and the impact it is having on millions of people across the country,” Minister of State for South and Central Asia Lord Tariq Ahmad said in a statement today.
“The UK is working around the clock with the Pakistan authorities to determine what support is required in the short-term and longer-term,” he vowed.
Separately, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs will ship a 50-meter-long Bailey-type bridge to Pakistan which will be able to be swiftly deployed in the affected areas in view of the widespread destruction of the country’s infrastructure.
In a statement issued today, the French Embassy said that the country was putting together an “extraordinary operation” to provide emergency relief.
Furthermore, it stated that a special charter aircraft leased by the Airbus Foundation will transport 83 very high-capacity water pumps, 200 family tents, and survival, hygiene and protective equipment to Pakistan.
The aircraft leaving France on Friday will also carry experts from civil security units, particularly doctors and nurses who will be deployed on the ground in consultation with the authorities.
In addition, France will provide financial assistance to several French NGOs and the Pakistani Red Crescent, which are providing relief to people affected by the floods, the statement added.
Norway too has pledged a 25 million krone grant assistance to Pakistan.
“Norway is channelling approximately 3 million krone through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), and will, in addition, provide 7 million krone to Norwegian Church Aid and 5 million krone to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said, adding that the country will also provide 10 million krone to the World Food Programme.
‘More rain but less intense’
As the country reels from the deadly, devastating rains and floods, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast more rain in September.
A Met Office forecast issued on Wednesday that La Nina conditions — responsible for recent spells of flood-triggering deluge in the country — would persist in September but become less intense.
“Tendency for normal to above normal precipitation is likely over the country during September,” the Met Office said, predicting above-normal rainfall in northeastern Punjab and Sindh.
Meanwhile, most areas in Azad Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan were expected to receive normal to slightly above normal rain, it added.
Gilgit-Baltistan and northern areas of KP would witness “nearly normal rainfall” during the forecast period.
As a result of these showers, the Met Office warned of potential flash flooding in the hilly areas of Punjab, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and KP and urban flooding in plain areas, which include main cities in Punjab, Sindh and KP.
“But the likelihood [of flooding] remains lower as per climatology of the forecast month,” the Met Office said.
It added that rains during September may have a “good impact” on the growth and vegetation of Kharif crops and sufficient water would be available for irrigation and power sectors.
Additional reporting by Qazi Hassan.