At least 903 people have died in Pakistan this summer from heavy rainfall and flooding as the country experiences its eighth cycle of monsoon rains, Pakistan’s climate change minister told CNN on Wednesday when the country asked for international aid.
Thousands are without shelter and food because of this “humanitarian disaster,” Sherry Rehman said. “Right now, thousands are homeless without shelter, without food. And the lines of communication are cut off. It is a serious humanitarian disaster.”
She also tweeted that there are 326 children among the dead. The government is using all available resources to help the victims, she said.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), heavy monsoon rains and flooding have affected 2.3 million people in Pakistan since mid-June.
At least 95,350 homes have been destroyed, according to the humanitarian organization. The southeastern province of Sindh and the southwestern province of Balochistan are the two provinces most “affected in terms of human and infrastructure impact,” OCHA wrote in a Tuesday press release.
More than 504,000 animals have died, almost all of them in Balochistan, while nearly 3,000 kilometers of roads and 129 bridges have been damaged, blocking access to flood-affected areas, OCHA writes.
On Wednesday, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said more international funding was needed for flood relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.
Speaking at an NDMA briefing on Wednesday, Rehman compared the situation to record flooding in 2010, but said much of Balochistan, southern Punjab and 30 districts of the Sindh region were facing an “unprecedented humanitarian disaster”.
“People are adrift, livestock and crops are damaged,” Rehman said.
More heavy rains and flooding are expected, and schools in Balochistan and Sindh are closed pending another bout of monsoon rain expected by the end of the week.
China said on Wednesday it would provide emergency aid to Pakistan, according to a tweet from the Chinese embassy in Pakistan. The supplies would include 25,000 tents and $300,000 in emergency money to help flood-affected regions of Pakistan, the statement said.
Pakistan has monsoon rains every year, but nothing has been worse than the rains this summer, Rehman told CNN. For example, residents were caught unprepared when 400 millimeters (about 15 inches) of rain fell over the course of hours in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, she said.
“No city is so structured or so climate proof that it can handle this amount of water in such a short time,” she said. “This is a downpour of biblical proportions.”
July was the wettest in three decades, with 133% more rain than the average for the past 30 years, the National Disaster Management Authority said earlier in August. Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, received 305% more rain than the annual average, the disaster agency said.