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Friday January 27, 2023

Rain-induced flooding wreaks havoc as millions await relief across Pakistan

Devastations form the floods have hit 33 million people, so far

By AFP & APP & Web Desk
August 26, 2022
Stranded people wade through a flooded area after heavy monsoon rainfall in Rajanpur district of Punjab province on August 25, 2022. — AFP
Stranded people wade through a flooded area after heavy monsoon rainfall in Rajanpur district of Punjab province on August 25, 2022. — AFP

Incessant flooding and rainfall across Pakistan on Friday left millions of people distressed and waiting for relief in all four provinces, particularly Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where immense devastations have been recorded in one day.

Flooding triggered by rain has caused infrastructural damage and disconnected communication, but rescue and relief activities remain a challenge due to air, rail and road networks suspended in some of the severely damaged localities, particularly in Balochistan.

Earlier today, communication in Balochistan was cut off due to heavy overnight downpour. However , Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) restored the communications today.

Affectees have, therefore, been rendered hopeless while waiting to be rescued and shifted to safer locations. Some victims across flood-hit areas also wait to receive relief items.

A day earlier, official shared that a British-era railway bridge between Kolpur and Mach in Bolan Pass washed away in floods and cut off Quetta, the capital of Balochistan.

Damaged bridges and landslides blocked all four highways linking Balochistan with other provinces across the country.

More than 235 people have so far lost their lives in the province, while hundreds of thousands have their homes and destroyed following the catastrophic floods, authorities stated.

Army deployment approved by Interior Ministry

Following the emergency situation of floods, the Interior Ministry approved Pakistan Army’s deployment in all four provinces across Pakistan. The military will be helping civic governments to ensure seamless relief operation.

The ministry has sent a summary to federal cabinet for final approval under Article 245, the ministry said.

Displaced people take refuge inside a mosque after fleeing from their flood hit homes following heavy monsoon rainfalls in Sukkur of Sindh province, southern Pakistan on August 26, 2022. — AFP
Displaced people take refuge inside a mosque after fleeing from their flood hit homes following heavy monsoon rainfalls in Sukkur of Sindh province, southern Pakistan on August 26, 2022. — AFP

Army establishes flood relief centre in Rawalpindi

Pakistan Army has established the army flood relief centre at the Headquarters of Army Air Defence Command in Rawalpindi to monitor and coordinate nationwide flood relief efforts alongside Military Operations Directorate, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The military’s media wing stated that flood relief centres in various parts of the country have been established to assist collection, transportation and distribution of flood relief goods to flood victims in various provinces.

Stranded people wade through a flooded area after heavy monsoon rainfall in Nawābshāh district of Sindh province, southern Pakistan on August 25, 2022. — AFP
Stranded people wade through a flooded area after heavy monsoon rainfall in Nawābshāh district of Sindh province, southern Pakistan on August 25, 2022. — AFP

The statement added that the troops are shifting people to safer places, providing shelter, meals and medical care to affectees of floods.

Additionally, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa received briefing about the flood situation in Sindh and Balochistan during his visit to Karachi today. General Bajwa was provided a review of the response measures to support flood victims.

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

Zero balance call facility by telecom companies

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 in order to improve public rescue and relief efforts.

Appeals surge to support flood victims in Pakistan

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has urged friendly nations and donors to support the on-going relief and rehabilitation efforts following flood devastations across Pakistan, as the devastations have hit around 33 million people in the country.

PM Shahbaz has reiterated his request for support during a meeting select Islamabad-based ambassadors, high commissioners and other senior members of the diplomatic corps, to brief them on flood situation.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a meeting with ambassadors and diplomats in Islamabad. — APP
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a meeting with ambassadors and diplomats in Islamabad. — APP 

“More than 900 people including 300 children have lost their lives and 1300 have been injured so far,” the PM said while briefing meeting attendees representing Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Kuwait, UAE, Turkiye, South Korea, USA, Germany, Bahrain, European Union, France, Oman, Qatar, UK, and Saudi Arabia. Country representative of the World Food Programme (WFP) was also present at the meeting.

PM Shahbaz announces Rs15 bn for Sindh

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced grant worth Rs15 billion for affectees in Sindh’s flood-hit areas.

The announcement came following the prime minister’s visit to Sukkur for reviewing the current status of relief and rehabilitation activities in the catastrophe-hit province where he was received Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah, and Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah.

All relevant authorities including the chairman of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Sukkur’s district administration and representatives, Sindh’s chief secretary, and chief engineer of Sukkur Barrage briefed the PM regarding the status of relief and rehabilitation efforts.

During his visit to the flood-hit areas, the PM took an aerial view of inundated areas across Sukkur, Rohri, Khairpur, Faiz Ganj, Kot Diji, and Thari Mir Wah.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif looks on during an aerial tour of Sukkur to review the extent of damage due to the ongoing rain-induced flooding in Sindh. — APP
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif looks on during an aerial tour of Sukkur to review the extent of damage due to the ongoing rain-induced flooding in Sindh. — APP

He also met with affectees during his visit. During his interaction, PM assured government’s efforts to facilitate flood-hit victims.

The PM mentioned that over 900 people died due to floods in the last few months, while the situation incurred a heavy toll on crops and livestock as well.

During his visit, PM Shahbaz announced disbursement of Rs25,000 per household through Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) starting from today onward.

“In one week, around Rs28 billion would be given to the affected people,” PM Shahbaz said, adding a joint survey was being conducted by the departments of federal and provincial governments to assess the damages, lauding the efforts of provincial government and Pakistan Army during the devastations.

Around 43 food relief camps are set up in Sindh so far, providing people with food and medicines.

Flood water in KP’s Swat sweep away a hotel

In a video that went viral on social media, a major hotel was swept in flood water earlier today in Kalam — a valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat district.

Located on the bank of the Swat River, the hotel was evacuated beforehand and no causalities were reported. Given the hotel’s collapse, other establishments in the area were also emptied by authorities.

The National Highway Authority (NHA) also issued an alert for tourists in Swat’s Bahrain and Kalam areas, warning about the possibility of flood-like situation in the district following heavy rain.

According to the alert, the Bahrain-Kalam section of the N-95 and N-90 highways were severely damaged by the rainfall.

NHA spokesperson said that flooding has impacted the Bahrain bridge and the approach road, while the surrounding tracks have also been affected, apart from Bahrain-Kalam road.

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

Emergency declared by KP govt

Following the massive extent of destruction caused by floods in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government has declared an emergency in effect until August 30. The emergency has been declared to ensure provision of relief efforts in the disaster-hit area, according to a notification issued by the KP relief department.

KP’s CM Mahmood Khan has issued directives asking the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) to speed up relief efforts in Swat and provide grocery, cooked food and other items to the affectees on a priority basis.

Communication bridges in Matta, Sukhra, and Swat’s Lalko have also been destroyed, according to the district administration.

Some restaurants and hotels have submerged on the Mingora Bypass, while inundation has caused the Swat Mingora Bypass Road to be closed for traffic.

KP’s CM secretariat establishes emergency control room

An emergency control room has been set up at KP Chief Minister’s Secretariat with immediate effect to monitor situation of flooding 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 control room will coordinate all activities and information including emergencies with relevant authorities and stakeholders across the province.

Warnings of ‘high to very high’ floods issued by PMD

An advisory issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department’s (PMD) Flood Forecasting Division, the department warned that according to 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.

High level water flow recorded in River Swat

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

Deputy commissioners of Swat, Malakand, Lower Dir, Mohmand, Mardan, Charsadda, Peshawar, and Nowshera have been ordered to "immediately identify vulnerable points and communities at risk to devise mitigation and safety measures".

Authorities have also been instructed by the PDMA to rescue and evacuate cattle from areas under risk of flooding. They have also asked for restriction of vehicle movement in the locality.

PTI chief Imran Khan reviews KP’s flood situation

PTI’s Chairperson Imran Khan oversaw the situation of flood-hit areas along with KP CM Mahmood Khan in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank today. The former PM was given an aerial tour of the areas and termed the level of destruction “massive”.

“The level of destruction is massive & have discussed with the CM how to improve scale & speed of the assistance to affectees incl preventive measures against spread of disease, esp in children,” he tweeted.

The former PM added that the extent of flooding he saw in Tank and DI Khan was reflective of the challenges Pakistan is facing with regards to climate change.

Extent of damage in Pakistan

Torretial rainfall across the country have triggered flash floods in Pakistan since June, impacting over 33 million people so far, as stated by climate change minister Sherry Rehman.

The minister has termed the situation “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions”.

The extent of destruction can be measured following numbers released by the National Disaster Management Authority.

Death toll due to recent flooding and rains in the country have claimed the lives of 937 people, while 1,343 have been injured.

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

So far, a total of 793,995 cattle and other animals have been killed with 85,897 dead in the last 24 hours.

Around 175,069 houses were damaged in the last 24 hours with the total going up to to 670,328.