- The Flood killed at least 1,100 people, affected 33 million
- A third of the country is under water – climate minister
- Climate catastrophe in Pakistan needs world attention – Guterres
- The destruction is ‘internationally driven’ – UN’s Harneis
CHARSADDA, Pakistan, Aug. 30 (Reuters) – Torrential rain and flooding have submerged a third of Pakistan and killed more than 1,100 people, including 380 children, when the United Nations called for help on Tuesday for what it described as an “unprecedented climate catastrophe” . “
Army helicopters plucked stranded families and threw food parcels into inaccessible areas when the historic deluge, brought on by unusually heavy monsoon rains, destroyed homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops, affecting 33 million people, 15% of the nation’s 220 million South Asian nation.
The country received nearly 190% more rain than the 30-year average in the quarter through August this year, totaling 390.7 millimeters (15.38 inches). Sindh province, with a population of 50 million, was hardest hit, receiving 466% more rain than the 30-year average.
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“A third of the country is literally under water,” Climate Change Secretary Sherry Rehman told Reuters, describing the scale of the disaster as “a catastrophe with unprecedented precedent”.
She said the water would not recede any time soon.
The dead were at least 380 children, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told reporters during a briefing at his office in Islamabad.
“Pakistan is engulfed in suffering,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message, as the United Nations appealed for $160 million to help the South Asian nation. “The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids – the relentless impact of unprecedented amounts of rain and flooding.”
Guterres is going to Pakistan next week to see the effects of the “unprecedented climate catastrophe,” a UN spokesman said.
He said the magnitude of the climate catastrophe demanded the collective attention of the world.
Nearly 300 stranded people, including some tourists, were airlifted in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, a state-run disaster relief agency said in a statement, while more than 50,000 people were transferred to two government shelters in the northwest.
“Life is very painful here,” 63-year-old villager Hussain Sadiq, who was in one of the shelters with his parents and five children, told Reuters, adding that his family had “lost everything”.
Hussain said medical assistance was inadequate and that diarrhea and fever are common in the shelter.
Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the northern valley of Swat and discussed rescue and relief operations, saying that “rehabilitation will take a long, long time”.
The United States will provide $30 million through USAID in support of Pakistan’s flooding, the embassy in Islamabad said in a statement. read more
Early estimates put more than $10 billion in damage from the floods, the government said. read more
The losses are likely to be much greater, the prime minister said.
Heavy rainfall has caused flash floods that have poured down from northern mountains, destroyed buildings and bridges, and washed away roads and standing and stored crops.
Colossal amounts of water flow into the Indus River, which flows from the northern peaks to the southern plains through the center of the country, causing flooding along its entire length.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said hundreds of thousands of people are living outdoors without access to food, clean water, shelter or basic health care.
Guterres said the $160 million he hoped to raise from the call would provide 5.2 million people with food, water, sanitation, emergency education and health support.
‘NOT ENOUGH HELP’
Prime Minister Sharif said the amount of aid “must be multiplied quickly”, promising that “every penny will reach the needy, there will be no wastage at all.”
Sharif feared the devastation would further derail an economy already in turmoil, potentially leading to an acute food shortage and skyrocketing inflation, which stood at 24.9% in July.
Wheat sowing could also be delayed, he said, and to mitigate the impact, Pakistan was already in talks with Russia over wheat imports.
General Akhtar Nawaz, head of the national disaster agency, said at least 72 of Pakistan’s 160 districts have been affected by disasters.
More than two million acres (809,371 hectares) of farmland were flooded, he said.
Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan had become ground zero for global warming.
“The situation is likely to deteriorate further as heavy rainfall continues in areas that have been submerged from storms and floods for more than two months,” he said.
Guterres called for a swift response to Pakistan’s plea to the international community for help, and called for an end to “sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change”.
“The extreme monsoon floods are telling us there is no time to lose, the climate tipping point is here,” said Rehman, the climate change minister, adding that Pakistan is looking to the developed world not to make it pay for its carbon emissions. from other countries. assisted development.
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Reporting by Asif Shahzad and Charlotte Greenfield in Islamabad and Gibran Peshimam in Kabul; Editing by Robert Birsel, Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler
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