Deaths From flooding in Pakistan Near 1,000: Officials

ISLAMABAD — Flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains across much of Pakistan have killed nearly 1,000 people and injured and displaced thousands more since mid-June, officials said Saturday.

This new death came just days after Shahbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, requested international assistance to combat floods in impoverished Islamic country.

This year’s monsoon season began earlier than usual and has slammed Pakistan with heavy rains. Rescuers are struggling to rescue thousands of flood-stricken people. The government declared a state emergency due to the crisis.

According to Sania Safi (a high-ranking administrator from Charsadda), flooding caused flooding at Swat River in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“We preempted the situation and warned and forced hesitating residents to leave their homes for safety and move to relief camps established at government buildings in safe places,” she said.

Safi indicated that further rise of the Swat-Kabul rivers was a concern, adding to misery for residents already suffering loss of life and property.

Quratul Ain Wazir (local administrator) stated that flooding waters had submerged the streets in Nowshera before they reached low-lying places.

“Our administration has evacuated many people and taken others to relief camps where government provided beds and food in safe buildings,” she said. … “We will use police to force those hesitant to leave their homes.”

Khushal Wahab lives in Nowshera in an area that is submerged by water. He said many residents remembered the 2010 catastrophic flooding and they evacuated in fear. “People are scared,” he said.

Maryam Aurangzeb (information minister) stated that rescue and soldiers were helping to bring people safety in various districts throughout southern Sindh and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She also spoke out about the situation in eastern Punjab, southwestern Baluchistan, and northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Government has sanctioned sufficient funds to financially compensate the affected people and we will not leave our people alone in this tough time,” she said.

Aurangzeb appealed to wealthy and non-governmental organizations for aid in flood-affected Pakistanis.

In response to Sharif’s appeal for international aid, the United Nations planned a $160 million flash appeal for donations, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar. The appeal was to be launched August 30, he said during his weekly briefing on Friday.

It is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s picturesque Kalam Valley. This area was particularly affected by floods and the rainfalls. Overflowing rivers caused destruction of entire buildings including an iconic hotel.

“The situation is pretty serious as we don’t have any road link left with the rest of the province, we don’t have electricity, gas and communications network and no relief is reaching here,” said Muzaffar Khan, whose grocery store was swept away along with many other shops.

Authorities said that thousands of people whose houses were destroyed now reside in tents miles from the inundated towns and villages. They have been rescued by volunteers and soldiers.

Asadullah Nair, spokesperson for the Baluchistan provincial disaster management authority said that all 34 affected districts were severely affected by flooding and heavy rains in Baluchistan. Asadullah Nasir stated that roads had been destroyed, bridges were washed away, and only helicopters could provide relief. These helicopters can’t operate in bad weather conditions. He stated that 235 bodies had been confirmed by the provincial authorities, but this number is expected to grow significantly when communications have been restored.

Rajan Pur, eastern Punjab Province’s district, was seen to have been the worst hit. There were thousands upon thousands of brick or mud homes that had been inundated with water. Many of them were destroyed completely, but some of them could be salvaged.

The flood left many people homeless. They sought refuge on higher ground and waited for help.

Rahim Hasan, 52, said he lost his home and two children — a daughter and a son ages 14 and 16, respectively.

“I have nothing left in life, my home was destroyed and my children swept away by gushing water and now we are lying helpless on this road under open sky where soldiers are feeding us,” he said.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority’s latest overnight report, 45 flood-related deaths occurred between Friday and Saturday. This brings the total number of deaths since June to 982, with 1,456 people being injured.

The monsoon rains will continue for the remainder of this week, mostly in the southeast and southwest. In Pakistan, this season runs usually from July through mid September.

The damage caused by heavy rains and the subsequent flash floods to roads and bridges across Pakistan has resulted in a decrease in supply and an increase of prices.

Heavy rains and floods also affected large parts of Afghanistan. Mohammad Nasim Haqqani, spokesman for the country’s National Disaster Management Ministry, said at least seven people were killed in eastern Nangarhar province over a 24-hour period, and more than 600 others were rescued by Defense Ministry helicopters. These seven deaths were in addition to the 182 reported earlier in week.

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