Swelling Lake Could Cause More Flooding in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD — More flooding is expected in southern Pakistan, where Lake Manchar swelled from unprecedented monsoon rains that began in mid-June, officials warned on Sunday. Nearly 1,300 have been killed by the deluge so far.

According to meteorologists, there would be more rainfall in the area in the next days. Authorities urged residents in Jamshoro-Dadu districts in Sindh province close by the lake and Dadu district to flee. They said that the rising waters threatened a protective dam and an embankment and made it dangerous. This lake is west of Indus River. It’s the largest natural freshwater lake of Pakistan, and the second largest in Asia.

Fariduddin Mustafa, administrator for the Jamshoro district, said Sunday that officials made a cut into the lake’s embankment to allow excess water to escape and ultimately flow into the Indus. The water level continues to rise, however, he stated.

Officials confirmed that some parts of Dadu were already inundated.

″After we assessed water levels reached (a) dangerous level … and there was fear that the embankment of the lake might be caved in at any time, the administration decided to make a cut on the Bagh-e-Yousuf side to avert any uncontrollable flow of water,” he said.

Sharjil Iman Memon, the Sindh information minister, said that the cuts were made in order to defend the cities of Sehwan (as well as the towns of Bhan Saeedabad), which have a combined population close to half a millennium. Instead, the diverted waters will impact villages within the area with 150,000 inhabitants.

According to the Pakistani army, engineers from the Army were involved in the enforcement of Lake Manchar’s banks.

It comes just days after Pakistan made a second appeal to the international community to help victims of monsoon floods, which have caused unprecedented flooding in Pakistan. Nearly 1,300 people were killed and many millions more homeless. Multiple planes have flown supplies across the humanitarian air bridge to help poor countries.

Multiple officials and experts have blamed the unusual monsoon rains and flooding on climate change, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who last week called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the deadly crisis. To visit flood-ravaged areas in Pakistan and to speak with officials, Guterres will be there on September 9.

In its latest report, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority put the death toll since mid-June — when monsoon rains started weeks earlier this year — at 1,290 as more fatalities were reported from flood affected areas of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces. According to the report, 453 children died.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is visiting flood-affected areas and relief camps daily, tweeted Sunday that as Pakistan is battling its worst climate-change-induced calamity and that children were among those most adversely affected.

“With over 400 (children) dead they make up one third of overall death toll. Now they are at even greater risk of water borne diseases, UNICEF and other global agencies should help,” Shahbaz said.

Authorities stated that relief and rescue operations continue Sunday. Troops and volunteers used boats and helicopters to move people out of flood areas to relief camps, where they were provided with shelter and food.

Numerous relief camps were set up to serve tens or thousands of people in government buildings, while many more took refuge on the roadsides.

Hira Ikram, a physician at a camp established by Britain’s Islamic Mission in Sukkur charity said medical professionals are seeing scabies, gastrointestinal infections and fever as more common occurrences at the camp.

Alkidmat Foundation said that its volunteers use boats to provide ready-to eat meals for residents and animal feed on an island off the Indus. This group also distributed food and supplies to people who had been left behind or are living on the streets.

In the country’s northwest, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial disaster management authority warned of more rains, possible flash floods and land slides in the coming week in Malakand and Hazara districts. Taimur Khan, spokesperson for the authority, advised residents not to visit any areas that have been inundated in recent weeks.

According to initial government estimates, the devastation has caused $10 billion in damage but Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Saturday “the scale of devastation is massive and requires an immense humanitarian response for 33 million people.”

As a result, 35 planeloads of humanitarian aid from France, Turkey, China and the United Arab Emirates were delivered to Pakistan. In the days ahead, more planes will be arriving. With tons of relief items from the UAE, Sunday’s latest cargo flight arrived at Lahore airport.

Sheila Jackson (Congresswoman) and Tom Suzy (Supreme Court Member of Congress) were scheduled to travel to Pakistan to meet with officials and visit flood-affected regions.

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