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Wednesday February 28, 2024

10 times normal rainfall drove vast flooding in Pakistan: ESA

By Our Correspondent
September 02, 2022

PARIS: Rainfall 10 times heavier than usual caused Pakistan´s devastating floods, the European Space Agency said Thursday, as it released satellite images of a vast lake created by the overflowing Indus river.

Data from the EU´s Copernicus satellite has been used to map the scale of the deluge from space to help the rescue efforts, the ESA said in a statement.”Heavy monsoon rainfall — ten times heavier than usual — since mid-June have led to more than a third of the country now being underwater,” it said. The agency released images from the satellite showing an area where the Indus River has overflowed “effectively creating a long lake, tens of kilometres wide”, between the cities of Dera Murad Jamali and Larkana.

While it is too early to quantify the contribution of global warming in the floods, scientists say the rains are broadly consistent with expectations that climate change will make the Indian monsoon wetter. A recent study, based on climate models, predicted that exceptionally wet monsoons in the Indian subcontinent would become six times more likely during the 21st century, even if humanity rachets down carbon emissions.Rescue and relief efforts continued across Dadu district while Khairpur Nathan Shah has been the hardest hit so far. “Flood water is standing eight to nine foot high in Khairpur Nathan Shah city,” Dadu District Commissioner Murtaza Ali said. He added that Johi, located at a distance of eight kilometres, had been cut off from Dadu city in the aftermath of flash floods. Some 60 kilometres north, residents of Mehar gathered to form new dikes and reinforce existing ones using sandbags near a major highway that was deluged by water overnight. As a result of the recent catastrophe, 24 districts with 102 talukas and 5,727 dehs have been declared calamity-hit in the province, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was told

The torrents of the flood were heading towards Khairpur Nathan Shah flooding 11 wards, destroying houses, and warehouses forcing 90 per cent population to evacuate their houses. The water entered Degree College Boys, Degree College, Girls High School Boys, Civil Court, Nadra Office, Grid Station, Animal Hospital, Police Station and other institutions were also submerged. The wheat warehouse was also submerged damaging the critical commodity.

“We’re on a high alert as water arriving downstream from northern flooding is expected to enter the province over the next few days,” the spokesman of the Sindh provincial government, Murtaza Wahab said. Wahab said a flow of some 600,000 cubic feet per second was expected to swell the Indus, testing its flood defences. Hundreds of families have taken refuge on roads, the only dry land in sight for many of them. Villagers rushed to meet any motorcade begging for food or other help. Many headed for urban centres, like Karachi.

On the other hand, along with the ring Bund of Mehar city, the flood water submerged more than 10 colonies and villages including Alisha Colony, and Isa Khan Colony. The administration could not move the people to safe places, while the pressure on the Ring Road in Mehar increased. In order to save the villages, the citizens along with irrigation staff started to establish an embankment at Sindhri Buttra Road. Hundreds of villages of Union Council Khan jo goth, Qazi Arif, Mangwani, Gahi Mahesar, and Kolachi of Mehr taluk are trapped due to flooding.

There has been no let up in Balochistan also, where at least 10 districts — Quetta, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Sohbatpur, Jhal Magsi, Bolan (Kachhi) Khuzdar, Lasbela, Qila Saifullah and Qila Abdullah — were particularly hit hard by the unprecedented floods that levelled crops and destroyed thousands of houses. As the province reeled from the impact of devastating floods, the public relations officer at the Quetta Electric Supply Corporation, Muhammad Afzal, said the electricity supply was disrupted as 13 transmission towers had been washed away by floods. There has been no power for the last 8 days in Quetta, Kharan, Washik, Nushki, Mastung, Khuzdar, Kalat. Quetta was receiving only 2-4 hours of power. Life remains suspended without power in these areas even agriculture and drainage of water are not possible without power. Kharan is suffering from an acute shortage of potable water due to power suspension.

Similarly, the province remains cut off from the rest of the country after critical train routes and bridges were either washed away or flooded since August 23. After a bridge collapsed in Bolan, Jaffar Express from Quetta to Peshawar and Bolan Mail from Quetta to Karachi remains suspended. Similarly, passenger express to Chaman from Quetta remains suspended since last month when the rail track was washed away in floods at Shela Bagh.

Meanwhile, during his visit to Dera Ghazi Khan, President Dr Arif Alvi emphasized the need for the construction of new water reservoirs with the enhancement of storage capacity in the existing dams.

He said that the flood warning system should be further strengthened to not only protect precious human lives but to also overcome the shortage of water. He expressed his deep concern over a large number of causalities and the devastation of standing crops and livestock and villages.The district administration briefed President Alvi about the rescue and the relief operation being carried out in the district hit by the flash flood from Koh-e-Suleman ranges in the west. Alvi urged for the construction of delayed action dams to cope with the natural disaster. He also advised the farmers to opt for crop insurance which could help reduce losses in such disastrous situations. The president also visited the flood relief camps established at PTDC Hotel Sakhi Sarwar Road and met the victims where he ensured that the government would not let them down. Earlier on arrival, he was welcomed by former chief minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, chairperson Punjab Ehsas Program Dr Sania Nishter, former state minister Zartaj Gul and officials of the district administration.