Pakistan blames climate change for deadly floods, declares state of emergency

Pakistani officials said on Friday that weeks of flooding triggered by historic monsoon rains had killed nearly 1,000 people and “seriously affected” 33 million others, and they called for international help to deal with the the calamity.

The devastation in the country’s four provinces prompted Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to declare a national emergency amid forecasts of further rains, his office said.

Sharif reportedly said the government was working closely with the United Nations to issue a flash flood appeal on August 30.

The southwestern provinces of Baluchistan and southern Sindh have been hardest hit. The video showed swollen rivers and gushing floodwaters submerging cities, destroying buildings, washing away villages, bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

Members of a family with their belongings wade through water following heavy rains and floods during the monsoon season in Jamshoro, Pakistan August 26, 2022.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman described seasonal rainfall as a ‘monsoon monster’ and blamed climate change for the deadliest floods in the South Asian nation of around 220 million people in addition to ‘a decade.

She said Pakistan was experiencing “one of the worst weather disasters” in the world, and it was wreaking non-stop havoc across the country.

“We are at this ground zero, the front line, with extreme weather events, which we have seen since the beginning of this year in a relentless cascade of heat waves, wildfires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outburst events and now the monster monsoon of the decade,” Rehman said.

“The amount of water on the ground has inundated huge swaths of Pakistan, with 33 million people affected, many of them stranded,” she said. “Thousands of people are homeless; many are without food. And people are stuck.

Balochistan, already hit by flash floods, lost communication with the rest of the country after massive rains overnight, the English-language newspaper said. Dawn newspaper. The communication breakdown hampered rescue and relief operations in the affected region.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said on Friday it had restored voice and data services in Balochistan and efforts were being made to resolve “this unprecedented situation”.

Volunteers prepare food boxes to distribute to flood victims, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Peshawar, Pakistan, August 26, 2022.

Volunteers prepare food boxes to distribute to flood victims, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Peshawar, Pakistan, August 26, 2022.

Officials from Pakistan’s Meteorological Department said the country had its wettest July since 1961, warning that another cycle of torrential rains could occur next month. Rescue teams, aided by Pakistani military troops, were setting up tents and shelters in flood-hit areas, where many were left without food or shelter.

Rehman said a needs assessment was being prepared, but Pakistan would need all the international help it could get because coping with the disaster was beyond the capacity of federal or provincial governments.

Sindh received “784%” more rainfall this month than the August average, while Balochistan received nearly 500% more, according to official data.

Since mid-June when the monsoon seasons started in Pakistan, more than 3,000 kilometers of roads, 130 bridges and tens of thousands of houses have been damaged across the country, according to the National Land Management Authority. disasters.

According to NDMA forecasts, parts of the northwestern provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and central Punjab could face “very high to exceptionally high flood levels” in the coming days.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose Pakistani opposition party Tehreek-e-Insaf leads the KP, visited flood-hit areas on Friday and described on Twitter the level of destruction in the province as massive. The scenic Swat Valley in the province has been one of the hardest hit districts.

The calamity has hit Pakistan at a time when the country is facing an economic crisis, with dwindling foreign cash reserves and historic inflation.

The Sharif government has cut spending and raised fuel and utility prices to ensure Pakistan receives a much-needed $1.2 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The United Nations responded by allocating $3 million. “This will be used for health, nutrition, food security and water and sanitation services in flood-affected areas, focusing on the most vulnerable,” a UN statement said.

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