Heavy rains have triggered flash floods and wreaked havoc across much of Pakistan since mid-June, killing at least 903 people and leaving about 50,000 homeless, the country’s disaster agency says.
Thousands whose homes were swept away now live in tents, kilometres away from their inundated villages and towns, after being rescued by soldiers, local disaster workers and volunteers.
The flooding has further exacerbated Pakistan’s economic crisis. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued an appeal on Wednesday from abroad, urging philanthropists to help flood-affected areas in Pakistan.
After inundating much of southwestern Balochistan and eastern Punjab province, flash floods also affected the southern Sindh province. Authorities this week closed schools in Sindh and Balochistan.
Monsoon rains, which started in mid-June, were expected to continue this week, mainly in the south.
Murad Ali Shah, the top elected official in Sindh province, said the situation was worse than in 2010, when floods killed at least 1,700 people in Pakistan, mostly in Sindh. “We are doing our best to evacuate people from flood-hit areas,” he said on Tuesday.
Floods have damaged as many as 129 bridges across Pakistan, disrupting the supply of fruits and vegetables and causing an increase in prices.
Experts say climate change has caused erratic weather conditions in Pakistan, resulting in cloudbursts and excessive melting of glaciers that has swelled rivers. They say that limiting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions will help limit more drastic weather events around the world.
“In recent decades, we never witnessed such an unusual heavier downpour in Pakistan,” scientist Shahla Gondal told The Associated Press news agency, adding that authorities are ill-equipped and “do not know how to tackle” flooding disasters.