At least 50 people, including eight children, have been killed in weather-related incidents triggered by heavy monsoon rains that have lashed Pakistan for two weeks, officials say.
“Fifty deaths have been reported in different rain-related incidents all over Pakistan since the start of the monsoon on June 25,” a national disaster management official said on Friday, adding that 87 people were injured during the same period.
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The majority of the deaths were in the eastern province of Punjab, and were mainly due to electrocution and building collapses, official data showed.
The Associated Press news agency, citing local authorities, said the death toll stood at 55.
In the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the bodies of eight children – aged between 12 and 15 – were recovered from a landslide in the Shangla district on Thursday, according to emergency service Rescue 1122’s spokesman Bilal Ahmed Faizi.
He said rescuers were still searching for other children trapped in the debris.
Nearly 15 of them had set up a cricket pitch close to a sand rock when it collapsed after a spell of rain and buried them, district emergency unit officer Sanaullah Khan told the Reuters news agency.
Local rescue teams, later joined by the Pakistani army, pulled out eight bodies after hours of effort, he said. One of the remaining children was critically injured while the rest were unharmed.
Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city in the Punjab province, witnessed a record-breaking downpour on Wednesday, turning streets into rivers and leaving almost 35 percent of its residents without electricity and water.
— Syed Mansoor Haider (@smansoorhaider) July 6, 2023
Since Wednesday, 19 people have died in the city due to collapsing roofs and electrocution, officials said. Pakistan’s weather forecast agency warned of more rain in the coming days and warned of potential flooding in the catchment areas of Punjab’s major rivers, Jhelum and Chenab.
Heavy rains were also reported from other areas of the province as the rivers overflowed, prompting the authorities to be on high alert for fear of flash floods. Punjab’s disaster management authority said on Friday it was working to relocate people living along the waterways.
The rains have returned to Pakistan a year after the climate-induced downpour swelled rivers and inundated one-third of the country, killing more than 1,700 people.
The unprecedented floods also caused $30bn in damages in the cash-strapped South Asian nation.
The summer monsoon brings to South Asia between 70 and 80 percent of its annual rainfall between June and September every year.
The rainy season is vital for the livelihoods of millions of farmers and food security in a region of about two billion people – but it also brings landslides and floods.
Scientists say climate change is making seasonal rains heavier and more unpredictable.
Pakistan, which has the world’s fifth largest population, is responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to officials.
However, it is one of the most vulnerable nations to the extreme weather caused by global warming.