Multan, Pakistan – Massive flooding on two main rivers in Pakistan has wiped out thousands of villages, killing more than 317 people, and affecting a further 2.2 million, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
The floods began on September 6, when torrential downpours in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and northern Punjab provinces caused the rivers Jhelum and Chenab to swell to levels not seen in decades.
The ensuing floods have killed 64 people in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, 13 people in Gilgit-Baltistan, and 240 people in Punjab province.
Punjab has been the worst hit, with rivers breaking through dykes and embankments to flood more than 688,000 hectares of agricultural land, inundating more than 2,900 villages and forcing the evacuation of more than half a million people, many of whom are being forced to sleep on the side of the road, or in makeshift camps. Several major roads have also been damaged.
As the flood peak continues to roll through the country’s river systems, Sindh province is next slated to bear the brunt of the water’s flow.
Authorities say breaches in dykes in southern and central Punjab should prevent major damage downstream, but it remains to be seen if Pakistan’s decades old barrage and headwork infrastructure can handle the flood.
Multan district, in southern Punjab, has borne the brunt of much of the flooding, as strategic breaches in dykes were made to save the city. Those breaches diverted water towards inhabited villages surrounding the city, displacing more than 116,500 people from 121 villages.
Al Jazeera visited those villages, to see the scale of the devastation, and the pace of relief work.