As millions of flood-affected people awaited relief on Friday, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa came under the spotlight for the sheer scale of devastation witnessed there in a single day.

Balochistan lost communication with the rest of the country after more than 30 hours rains.

The destruction of infrastructure and breakdown in communication links added to the difficulties faced by the authorities in rescue and relief efforts in the region.

The air, road and rail networks in Balochistan were already suspended, cutting it off from the rest of the country.

“Due to torrential rains and flash floods in Balochistan fiberoptic cable, voice and data services have been impacted in Quetta and rest of the main cities of the province,” Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) said on Twitter.

Voice and data services were restored later in the afternoon, as announced by the PTA.

A major railway bridge washed away between Kolpur and Mach in Bolan Pass, cutting off Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan, from the rest of country for an indefinite period, officials said.

All four highways linking Balochistan with other provinces were blocked because of damaged bridges and landslides.

So far, more than 235 people have reportedly been killed in the province and hundreds of thousands lost their homes, the authorities said.

MUNDA HEADWORKS BRIDGE: The Munda Headworks bridge has been swept away by the flash flood leaving Charsadda and Nowshera districts at risk of floods.

This has put Charsada, Nowshera and the surrounding areas of the bridge at risk.

The incident took place late Friday night at around 11 pm.

The residents have been advised to leave their homes and go to government-designated camps.

ARMY DEPLOYMENT: The Interior Ministry has approved the deployment of the Pakistan Army due to a flood emergency. Troops will be deployed in all four provinces to help the civil government in the relief operation.

A summary in this regard has been sent to the federal cabinet for final approval under Article 245, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, an Army flood relief centre has been established at Headquarters Army Air Defence Command Rawalpindi to oversee and coordinate national flood relief efforts across the country in coordination with Military Operations Directorate, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The military’s media wing said that flood relief centres have been established in various parts of the country to assist collection, transportation, and distribution of relief goods to flood victims in various provinces. Army troops are shifting people to safer places, providing shelter, meals and busy in medical care to flood affectees.

Moreover, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Karachi where he was briefed about flood situation in Sindh and Balochistan and measures to help flood victims.

“COAS will visit army troops busy in rescue and relief efforts in Sindh and Balochistan,” the ISPR said.

ZERO BALANCE CALL FACILITY: On the directions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, all mobile service providers will provide a ‘zero balance call facility to all the people in flood-affected areas.

The premier directed the Ministry of IT to take immediate steps to improve public rescue and relief efforts.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz will visit Hyderabad today (Saturday) to monitor the situation.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail told a press conference that the premier would then visit flood-affected areas in KP.

He announced that the federal government will disburse Rs25,000 to the flood affectees; more than one million will receive the said fund by next week.

“Current floods are bigger than those in 2010,” he asserted.

SWAT: In Kalam valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat district, a major hotel was swept away by flood waters. The footage of the horrible incident emerged on Friday.

The hotel was located on the bank of the Swat River. It was evacuated and no casualties were reported. Other hotels near the river were also cleared out following the incident.

Meanwhile, a National Highway Authority (NHA) alert has been issued for tourists for the towns of Bahrain and Kalam in Swat. The alert said that a flood-like situation has developed in the district due to heavy rain.

It said that the Bahrain-Kalam section of the N-95 and N-90 highways have been severely damaged by the downpour.

A spokesperson for the NHA said that flooding has affected the Bahrain bridge as well as the approach road and that aside from the Bahrain-Kalam road, the surrounding tracks have also been impacted.

“Tourists and locals in Swat should avoid unnecessary travel,” the spokesperson said.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, in the meantime, declared an emergency in Swat.

The state of emergency will be in effect until August 30 for relief efforts in flood-affected areas of Swat, a notification by the KP relief department stated.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has directed the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) to expedite relief activities in the area besides timely provision of grocery, cooked food and other items to the affectees.

According to the district administration, communication bridges in Matta, Sukhra, and Lalko in Swat have also been damaged.

Several hotels and restaurants have been submerged on the Mingora Bypass, and Swat-Mingora Bypass Road has been closed to traffic due to inundation.

In Nowshera, meanwhile, public and private schools have been closed for two days due to flooding, the deputy commissioner said.

Following the PDMA advisory, the KP government imposed a “flood emergency” in district Nowshera also.

According to the notification issued by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner Nowshera, the decision has been taken in large public interest with immediate effect till further orders.

“In view of the effect, all government/private educational institutes buildings, hospitals and other public/private properties (vehicles and buildings) shall be under the administrative control of District Administration Nowshera in order to save the precious human lives and to arrange safe places for floos affected people in the district,” the notification read.

Moreover, flood emergency has been implemented throughout the district. People are been moved from Swabi and Jehangira.

An emergency control room has been established at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister’s Secretariat with immediate effect for the ongoing flood situation in the province.

“Muhammad Hayat, Additional Secretary is hereby nominated as focal person/in charge of the emergency control room,” the notification issued by the secretariat read.

The emergency control room will coordinate all kinds of activities/information and emergencies with relevant stakeholders.

RIVER SWAT: In a flood advisory issued on Friday, KP’s Provincial Emergency Operations Centre said that water flows in River Swat at Khawazakhela point and its tributaries/nullahs had reached high to very high flood levels — 227,899 cusecs — which “may result in a dangerous situation for communities living nearby”.

The deputy commissioners of Swat, Lower Dir, Malakand, Mohmand, Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshera and Peshawar have been instructed to “immediately identify vulnerable points and communities at risk to devise mitigation and safety measures”.

The PDMA also instructed authorities to evacuate cattle from areas at risk of flooding, as well as restrict vehicle movement there.

In its advisory, the Pakistan Meteorological Department’s (PMD) Flood Forecasting Division warned that according to the latest Hydro-Meteorological conditions and releases from Tarbela Dam, River Indus at Kalabagh and Chashma may attain “high to very high flood level” ranging between 5,50,000 cusecs to 7,00,000 cusecs from 12am of August 27 to 12am of August 28.

“In view of the above situation, all authorities concerned are advised to remain alert and take all necessary precautionary measures well in time to avoid loss of life and property,” the advisory read.

AID FOR SINDH: Meanwhile, in Sindh, where massive destruction has followed rains, particularly in the rural areas, the federal government will provide a grant of Rs15 billion to overcome the heavy losses to infrastructure, PM Shehbaz announced on Friday.

Talking to reporters flanked by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and federal ministers including Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Syed Khurshid Shah here at Sukkur Barrage, the prime minister said the situation demanded rising above politics and helping the flood victims overcome their miseries.

PM Sharif, who earlier took an aerial view of the inundated areas of Sukkur, Rohri, Khairpur, Faiz Ganj, Kot Diji, and Thari Mir Wah, expressed serious concern over the loss of lives and infrastructure caused by floods.

The prime minister said the grant by the federal government would help the Sindh government carry out relief and rehabilitation activities.

He announced the disbursement of Rs25,000 per household through Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) starting Friday and onwards and said in one week, around Rs28 billion would be given to the affected people.

Also, medical camps are on the alert to extend treatment to patients in the flood-hit areas, he added.

He said Nestle Pakistan had donated 100 tonnes of clean drinking water, of which 80 tonnes and 20 tonnes were to be supplied to the flood victims of Sindh and Balochistan, respectively.

The prime minister mentioned holding a meeting with envoys of various countries this morning, where he urged them to provide assistance to Pakistan in the hour of need.

He mentioned that he talked to the army and naval chiefs who assured full support in carrying out relief and rescue operations.

The prime minister said the grid stations in the flood-hit areas would be again switched on again after taking necessary measures. The power stations, after getting submerged in water, had been turned off keeping in view to avert the incidents of electrocution of people.

He instructed the Federal Minister for Power to remain available in Sindh to oversee the activities.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah urged the media to properly highlight the plight of the flood-affected people so as to apprise the international donor agencies about the true picture of devastation.

Foreign Minister Bilawal said the moment was a test for all political parties of Pakistan to help the people of the country in this hour of need.

He thanked the prime minister for his announcement regarding the disbursement of compensation money to flood victims through BISP.

He said presently, tents were the most needed commodity and appealed to the philanthropists to come forward for contribution.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s General Secretary Sindh chapter Rashid Mehmood Soomro stressed joint efforts of the federal and provincial governments besides the private sector to help the flood victims.

The district administration of Sukkur and the representatives of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) briefed the prime minister about the ongoing work for the relief of the flood-stricken people and the rehabilitation of the infrastructure.

The prime minister was apprised that several flood-hit areas faced unavailability of communication services after severe damage to infrastructure in urban and rural areas.

It was told that 43 food relief camps had been set up in Sindh where the people were being given food and medicines.

DONATIONS: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has introduced a text-to-donate short code 9999 to enable the consumers donate their funds through mobile phone text to support the flood victims.

The consumers would be required to write “fund” and send to the 9999 short code to donate Rs10 to contribute to the relief and rehabilitation activities in the flood-ravaged areas across the country.

The Authority has asked all the cellular network operators to update the National Disaster Management Authority regarding the received donations.

PM Shehbaz has also established a PM Flood Relief Fund 2022 where the people can contribute funds to the account No. G-12164.

He said on Twitter on Friday he had met ambassadors and other senior diplomats in Islamabad “as part of efforts to mobilise all resources.”

He said the losses, though yet to be fully documented are comparable to the 2010 flash floods.

“Together we will build back better,” he resolved.

Abnormal rains have triggered flash floods and wreaked havoc across Pakistan since June, affecting more than 30 million people, according to climate change minister Sherry Rehman, who called the situation a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions”.

The scale of devastation can be gauged by these numbers released by National Disaster Management Authority.

The death toll from recent rains and floods has reached 937 while 1,343 have been injured.

In the last 24 hours alone, 34 more people died in KP, Sindh, Balochistan, and Punjab, while 50 were injured.

The total number of animals that died in the rains hit 793,995 after 85,897 more died in 24 hours.

Moreover, in the last 24 hours, another 175,069 houses were damaged, taking the number of damaged houses to 670,328.

Pakistan has called on the international community to help as it struggles to cope with the aftermath of the torrential rains.

The hotel was located on the bank of the Swat River. It was evacuated timely, and no casualties were reported, according to Geo News. Other hotels near the river were also cleared out following the incident.

Meanwhile, a National Highway Authority (NHA) alert has been issued for tourists for the towns of Bahrain and Kalam in Swat. The alert said that a flood-like situation has developed in the district due to heavy rain.

It said that the Bahrain-Kalam section of the N-95 and N-90 highways have been severely damaged by the downpour.

A spokesperson for the NHA said that flooding has affected the Bahrain bridge as well as the approach road and that aside from the Bahrain-Kalam road, the surrounding tracks have also been impacted.

“Tourists and locals in Swat should avoid unnecessary travel,” the spokesperson said.

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