Pakistan has urged the international community and philanthropists to help with relief efforts as it struggles to cope with the aftermath of torrential rains that triggered massive floods, killing more than 900 people.
According to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), heavy monsoon rainfall and floods have affected some 2.3 million people in Pakistan since mid-June, destroying at least 95,350 houses and damaging a further 224,100.
Sindh in the southeast and Balochistan in the southwest are the two most affected provinces. More than 504,000 livestock have been killed, nearly all of them in Balochistan, while damage to nearly 3,000 km of roads and 129 bridges have impeded movement around flood-affected areas.
July’s national rainfall was almost 200% above average, Sardar Sarfaraz, a senior official at the metrological office told Reuters on Wednesday, making it the wettest July since 1961.
SHERRY REHMAN: Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman, in a Twitter post, revealed that over 900 people have died and thousands of people have been displaced due to floods, adding that a “humanitarian crisis” had arisen across the country.
The main supply route from the port city of Karachi has been cut for more than a week after a bridge linking it to Balochistan was swept away, while dozens of small dams in the province were overwhelmed.
“The situation is changing every day on the ground; our death toll has gone up to 903, thousands are homeless without shelter without flood,” Rehman told Becky Anderson in an interview to CNN.
“We have monsoons every year…it is nothing like this. This is torrential downpour of biblical proportions,” Rehman said, adding that it is a serious “humanitarian disaster”.
“The cities aren’t geared for the type of climate resilience that is required for this consistent torrential downpour,” she added.
AHSAN IQBAL: On the other hand, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Ahsan Iqbal, in a press conference, said that the federal government has also appealed to the international development partners for assistance, so the reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by the flooding can be started once the water recedes.
In Sindh, the government closed all educational institutions in anticipation of fresh rain forecast for Wednesday and Thursday and an airport in the Nawabshah district remains closed with the airfield almost fully submerged.
Heavy rain continued to pound much of Pakistan, including Peshawar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Pishin, Khuzdar, Quetta, Chaman, Khairpur, Sukkur, with authorities reporting more than a dozen deaths — including nine children — in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile, on the instructions of KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan an emergency has been declared in Tank.
PM RELIEF FUND: Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb requested the nation to donate money for the rain-affected areas in the Prime Minister Relief Fund Account 2022.
“All commercial banks and their branches can collect donations in the Prime Minister Flood Relief Fund 2022 as per State Bank of Pakistan circular,” she said, adding that overseas Pakistanis can also send donations through wire transfers, money service bureaus, money transfer operators and exchange houses.
SINDH SETS UP RELIEF FUND: Amid a dire need to help flood-hit people, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, in a televised message, urged philanthropists to come out and help the affected people of the province which is “enduring a catastrophe like never before.”
Sindh government has announced the Sindh Flood Relief Fund for affectees of the ongoing torrential rains and flooding in the province, a notification issued by the provincial finance department read.
The fund has been initiated to seek financial support for victims in the province hit hard by extreme weather patterns.
Donations for the fund will also be made through net monthly salaries of ministers including Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah, PPP’s provincial assembly members, advisors, CM’s special assistants, Parliamentary secretaries, officers, and officials.
“We are trying to arrange tents, mosquito nets, beds, edibles, medicines, and other items for affectees,” he said, ensuring the provision of all essential items within a few days.
“Philanthropists, welfare organisations, and donor agencies should visit Sindh to assess the situation and provide support to distressed people,” he said, also requesting affluent citizens to come forward to support victims.
KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA: Continuous torrential rains caused flooding in the Upper Dir and Swat districts, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed.
Similarly, Rescue 1122 Punjab confirmed two deaths from hill torrents; one in Dera Ghazi Khan and one in Rajanpur. The torrents have also taken their toll on the infrastructure of schools, healthcare facilities, roads, electricity lines and irrigation canals.
Thousands of flood-displaced people are stranded on the banks of the river and along the Indus Highway, without any shelter in the rain. Meanwhile, waist-deep water is still standing in and around the localities where they dwell.
The deaths in Punjab brought the death toll in the province to 38 during the last two weeks.
In Upper Dir, five schoolchildren drowned in a flooded stream at Kasai Shahikot in the jurisdiction of Barawal police station.
Rescuers said that the children were on their way back from school when they were swept away by rushing waters. The victims included the son and a daughter of one Syed Aman, a son and a daughter of Zakir and an unidentified child. Rescuers said that bodies of four of the children were found later when the water receded, while the search for the fifth child was still ongoing.
Earlier, the niece of one Haji Rahim Gul drowned in a stream at Zangian village of Samarbagh. After hectic efforts, locals managed to retrieve the body from the stream.
Similarly, a two-room house collapsed due to torrential rains in the Gandigar area of Upper Dir. The occupants, however, remained unhurt.
In addition, hundreds of school students who were trapped by flash floods in Mingora had to be rescued by locals, Rescue 1122, and civil defense teams.
Malakand Division Commissioner Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said that all the departments were actively taking part in relief activities. “Relief measures have been initiated after the water subsided and in this regard, all resources are being utilised in light of the orders of Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan,” he said, adding that he was supervising all the arrangements himself.
INFRASTRUCTURE DAMAGE: A large swathe of DG Khan has been submerged by water, causing widespread power supply disruptions. The loss to power transmission infrastructure here is immense, and statistics show that 640 transformers, 1,575 single phase meters and 145 three phase meters were damaged in the area during the recent heavy rains.
Mepco Superintendent Engineer (Dera Ghazi Khan) Muhammad Hasnain Shakeel told Dawn that of the 21 subdivisions of Mepco Circle, areas in Fort Munro, Rojhan and Tubi Qaisrani were completely submerged, while Wahowa and Choti areas were 75pc under water and around half of the Shadan Lound, Dajal, Rajanpur, Shah Sadr Deen and Quetta Road areas had been inundated.
An official said that the rail track from Taunsa barrage to Rojhan has also been damaged.
The irrigation department infrastructure was also badly hit by strong waters of hill torrents in both districts. Roads and dozens of link bridges had also been washed away. Barthi Road and Taunsa-Musakhel Road are still closed and the N55 Indus Highway is in bad shape after the floods and in need of immediate repair. In all, as many as 60 roads in both districts have been washed away.
Separately, Chief Executive Officer Education Zulfiqar Malghani said that 86 schools were hit by floodwaters and closed in Dera Ghazi Khan district, while an official from Rajanpur claimed that 60pc of the schools in the district had been submerged and the remaining converted into relief camps.
Chief Executive Officer Health Dr Abdul Karim said that 30 health facilities, including basic health units and rural health centres had been badly affected by downpours and hill torrents in Dera Ghazi Khan. In Rajanpur, he said, 60pc of health infrastructure had been hit by floods.
In addition, a large stock of wheat stored by the food department in Fazilpur and Shahdan Lound has been destroyed.
RELIEF OPERATION: The Punjab government has started provision of relief goods including food and medicine in flood hit areas of districts Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.
However, locals complained that while they saw vehicles carrying food and shelter, the bureaucracy was distributing the items in their preferred areas.
In Lahore, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi presided over the Disaster Management Ministerial Committee meeting being held at the Chief Minister’s Office, where relief activities relating to the flood affected areas in Rajanpur, Taunsa and Dera Ghazi Khan came under review.
The CM directed Chief Secretary Kamran Afzal to visit the flood affected areas forthwith and further directed him to oversee the relief activities for the flood affectees.
He also ordered that rescue and relief operations be expedited and all institutions should help the flood hit population.
A Rescue 1122 officer told Dawn that relief activities were initiated on Wednesday, adding that they were providing boats to the district administration to transport bags of food and medicine.
He said he had seen any NGO providing help to flood victims in Rajanpur.
Meanwhile, DG Khan Deputy Commissioner Anwar Baryar on Wednesday ordered clearing of roads and repairing of bridges.
The work on restoring Indus Highway has also started and expected to be completed within a couple of days.