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“The situation is alarming. It is an enormous challenge as the physical infrastructure to manage the draining of water has totally collapsed,” said National Disaster Management Authority chairman Zafar Qadir. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: In view of the enlarging magnitude of disaster caused by heavy rainfall and flash floods in Sindh, the government has decided in principle to launch an international appeal to cope with the enormous challenges it faces in providing relief to the affected people.

Official sources told Dawn on Wednesday that incessant rains were making the calamity worse. And an imminent resource gap had forced the authorities to think in terms of seeking international help.

They said a formal appeal was likely to be made within the next three days.

National Disaster Management Authority chairman Zafar Qadir said at a press conference that Mitthi area in Tharparkar district alone had received a rainfall of 300mm in 12 hours, posing a threat to the adjacent areas. Badin district also received considerable rainfall on Tuesday.

“The situation is alarming. It is an enormous challenge as the physical infrastructure to manage the draining of water has totally collapsed,” he said.

He said the “de-watering” pumps had become useless because there was no dry patch to pump the water to. He said the absence of slopes had also made things difficult. Mr Qadir said a joint assessment team of the United Nations and NDMA would be going to the rain-affected areas to meet major stakeholders, including political leaders, lawmakers and social activists. The team would find out what sort of state intervention was required.

He said that in view of the gravity of the situation, extensive deliberations on the political and diplomatic fronts were taking place. He said a meeting between representatives of the economic affairs division and the UN officials took place on Wednesday.

Answering a question, the NDMA chief said that up to five million people had been affected and some 130,000 people were currently living in tents. He conceded that there were people living under open skies but said their number was negligible. He said these people were not ready to be evacuated to safe places.

Mr Qadir said there was no food shortage in the affected areas. He said besides utilising the full capacity of the Utility Stores Corporation and Canteen Stores Department the NDMA had started procuring 30,000 ration bags from private vendors and even striving to further boost the procurement drive.

He said the number of tents sent so far to the affected areas by the NDMA alone was 43,000 and another 18000 were in the pipeline. The NDMA chief said there were no complaints regarding distribution of tents among the rain-hit people. He also rejected the criticism over the alleged lack of preparedness on the part of the NDMA to deal with the calamity.