Pak declares national emergency after floods kill over 900 people

As per the latest data by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the rains and floods had so far killed 937 people, including 343 children, and left at least 30 million without shelter.
Representative image
Representative image

ISLAMABAD: Amidst the ongoing devastation caused by heavy rains and floods in different parts of Pakistan, the government on Thursday officially declared a “national emergency”.

As per the latest data by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the rains and floods had so far killed 937 people, including 343 children, and left at least 30 million without shelter.

Meanwhile, Sindh recorded the highest number of death as 306 people have lost their lives due to floods and rain-related incidents from June 14 to date. Balochistan reported 234 deaths whereas Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab recorded 185 and 165 deaths, respectively. Nine deaths were reported in the Gilgit-Baltistan region during the current monsoon rains. In the same period Islamabad reported one death, Dawn reported citing NDMA.

The abnormal increase in rainfall has generated flash floods across the country, particularly in the southern part of Pakistan, which remains inundated at the moment with 23 districts of Sindh being declared “calamity-hit”.

In the face of calamitous floods, the Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said a “war room” has been established by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at NDMA, which would spearhead relief operations across the country.

However, the incessant “monstrous” rainfall had made it difficult to carry out relief operations, especially helicopter sorties, minister Rehman admitted.

“Pakistan is going through its 8th cycle of monsoon; normally the country has only three to four cycles of [monsoon] rain,” the minister said during a press conference in Islamabad.

“Pakistan is under an unprecedented monsoon spell and data suggests the possibility of re-emergence of another cycle in September.”

Comparing the current situation of Pakistan with the year 2010 floods, Senator Rehman, earlier this week, said that the current situation was worse than that. “The water is not only flowing from the north as in 2010, but it is equally or more devastating in its sweep and destructive power,” she added.

According to the senator, flash floods caused by heavy rains had swept away bridges and communication infrastructure in various areas of the country. “Almost 30 million people are without shelter, thousands of them displaced and have no food,” she said as quoted by Dawn.

Stressing the need for relief from international donors, the minister said that the need for shelter and relief was dire as per what the provinces had conveyed. “It is still an evolving situation and every day the needs assessments were changing as the rains did not stop and the water kept coming,” she said, adding that the number of homeless was growing.

Sindh has asked for one million tents and Balochistan has demanded 100,000 tents, she said, adding that all tent manufacturers had been mobilised and external donors were also approached for tents.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb urged the nations, including overseas Pakistanis to come forward and helped their people at this critical juncture, according to Dawn.

“The entire nation, especially the overseas Pakistanis, should donate generously to help the flood victims as a huge amount of money would be required for their rehabilitation in the wake of large-scale disaster, she said in a statement.

This unprecedented emergency situation comes amid the rising political tension in the country over a terrorism case filed against former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Writing for the Dawn, Pakistani columnist Zahid Hussain said nothing could be more surreal than watching political leaders engaged in a sordid game of thrones while a large part of the country is devastated by torrential rains.

In an article titled “Politics in times of calamity”, Hussain said villages have been wiped out by flash floods. “There are horrific scenes; the destruction across the country has left thousands of people homeless and without sustenance,” he added.

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