People retrieve bamboos from a damaged house following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Dera Allah Yar, district Jafferabad, Balochistan, Pakistan. - REUTERS

The death toll from the devastating floods in Pakistan reached 1,136 on Monday, as international aid began trickling in following Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led cash-strapped government’s desperate appeal for aid to deal with the crisis that has displaced 33 million or one-seventh of the country’s population.

Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman called it the “monster monsoon of the decade.”

Meanwhile, the ruling alliance held discussions to devise comprehensive plans for the relief and rehabilitation of millions of flood victims, as well as chalking out a strategy to meet natural catastrophes of this magnitude in future as the flooding caused by unprecedented monsoon rains swept nearly a third of the country.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, also decided to form a National Flood Response and Coordination Centre to provide proper institutional response to the calamity, which will comprise federal ministers, representatives of armed forces, chief ministers and experts.

It was also decided that all illegal constructions on the banks of rivers and other water courses would be removed.

The meeting was attended by the top civil and military brass, including the three services chiefs, the chief ministers of Balochistan and Sindh through video link, leaders of allied parties, federal ministers and senior officials from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

After the meeting, in a series of tweets, the PM Office said: “The Centre will serve as a bridge between disaster management authorities, donors and government institutions. It will collect and analyse latest information and pass it on to the relevant government agencies. It will also oversee rescue and relief work including restoration of infrastructure.”

Earlier, during a visit to the flood-hit areas of Charsadda and Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, PM Shehbaz announced Rs25,000 for every family hit by the calamity, saying the funds would be disbursed by September 3.

A man wades through flood water carrying all his belongings on his shoulder.

The prime minister also visited relief camps set up at the Abdul Wali Khan sports complex and at the Agra union council in Charsadda and met with the affected families.

The PM told reporters that the families of flood victims would be provided with Rs1 million.

QWP chairman Aftab Sherpao and JUI (F) district emir Maulana Gohar Shah also briefed the prime minister on the reconstruction of Munda headworks and efforts to rehabilitate the flood affected population.

BALOCHISTAN DESTRUCTION: The devastation from flooding caused by hill torrents and rains is continuing in Balochistan hampering rescue and relief operation and efforts to restore connectivity with other provinces and creating fear of food shortage, while more deaths are being reported from different areas of the province.

During an interaction with journalists on Monday, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudus Bizenjo revealed that the province suffered over Rs200 billion in financial losses due to rain and flood related damages over the past couple of months. In the past, he said, destruction from natural disasters was limited to certain areas, but this flood had affected all 34 districts.

He said that a survey was being conducted in all the affected districts and the losses may be well over Rs200bn when the final report is presented.

He said that due to a lack of connectivity, the province could face acute food shortages and said that he had suggested to the prime minister that food and other items should be airlifted to the province.

Separately, five members of a family including four women were killed when the roof of their house collapsed in Mach area of Bolan district.

In addition, gas supply to Quetta and other areas of the province could not be restored as the Bolan River was still in high flood, washing away three big bridges in Bibi Nani, Mach and near Dhadar of Bolan district, which closed the Quetta-Sukkur highway for the last two weeks. Commander 12 Corps Quetta Lt-Gen Asif Ghafoor also visited the Bibi Nani bridge area and asked the concerned officials of NHA to complete the repair on all three bridges within the next 24 hours.

In view of the serious flood and rains situation, the Balochistan government has extended closing of all government and private schools, colleges and universities for another week, until September 4.

NDMA FIGURES: At least 1,136 have been killed due to floods and another 1,634 injured, according to the latest data issued by the National Disaster Management Authority, the chief national body tasked to deal with calamities.

It said that about 1,051,570 houses were totally or partially damaged, leaving millions of people without food, clean drinking water and shelter.

Around 7,19,558 livestock are also dead, as millions of acres of fertile farmlands have been inundated by weeks of constant rains.

At least 11 people, including women and a child, were drowned and several others remained missing when a boat carrying 30 flood victims capsized in the swollen Indus River in Sindh’s Sehwan on Monday. The incident happened when the people affected by the floods were migrating from submerged villages to a safer location.

A senior police official said that Sindh police officials along with the Pakistan Navy rescued seven people while the search for the remaining missing victims is underway.

Officials said the final death toll due to floods could be much higher, a grim forecast as thousands of villages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province remain cut off from the rest of the country as swollen rivers destroyed roads and bridges, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

INTERNATIONAL AID: Citing an aide to Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif, the BBC said the country was desperate for international support.

“Pakistan has been grappling with economic issues, but now just when we were about to overcome them the monsoon disaster hit,” Salman Sufi said, adding that funding from a lot of development projects had been rerouted to the affected people.

The US, UK, UAE and others have contributed to a disaster appeal, but more funds are needed, officials here say.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said he was saddened to see the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan and hoped for an early restoration of normalcy.

“Saddened to see the devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the injured and all those affected by this natural calamity and hope for an early restoration of normalcy,” Modi said in a tweet.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday sent a message of condolence to his Pakistani counterpart Arif Alvi. Separately, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sent a message of condolence to Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif.

After the floods struck, China responded immediately, and will continue to provide urgently needed assistance to Pakistan and support the country in its disaster relief work, Xi said.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth said she was deeply saddened by the loss of lives and property in Pakistan due to the floods, asserting that the UK stands in solidarity with the country.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it’s heartbreaking to see the continuing devastation wrought by the floods in Pakistan. “My thoughts go to the victims and those helping with an heroic relief effort. The United Kingdom is sending support and continues to stand by the people of Pakistan in their hour of need,” he tweeted.

Pope Francis on Sunday exhorted the international community to help Pakistan, adding that he was praying for the victims.

Last week, the UN said it had earmarked 2.6 million pounds for relief measures in the country.

The first Turkish plane with relief goods for flood victims arrived on Sunday. Similarly, the Turkish Red Crescent Society is providing cash assistance of Rs 16,000 and 300 kits, 600 jerry cans, and 1,500 mosquito nets to 300 families in Jafferabad.


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