‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja – The death toll from ravaging monsoon floods in Pakistan has crossed 1,000, as several countries, including Qatar and Iran, pledged emergency support in the wake of a deluge that has been described as a “humanitarian disaster of epic proportions”.
The country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said on Sunday that the toll since June has reached 1,033, with 119 people dying in the last 24 hours. It warned of “very high” level flooding in some areas alongside the Kabul and Indus Rivers, particularly in Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and Kalabagh and Chashma in Punjab province.
Large parts of the country remain submerged – particularly the provinces of Balochistan, KP and Sindh in the south – as heavy rains continue to lash parts of the country. At least 347 people have died in Sindh followed by Balochistan (238) and KP (226).
The annual monsoon is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but each year it also brings a wave of destruction. This year, precipitation in some regions was 600 percent higher than average.
Officials say this year’s catastrophic flooding has affected more than 33 million people – one in seven Pakistanis – destroying crops, livestock, and nearly a million homes.
The NDMA said more than 809,000 hectares (two million acres) of cultivated crops have been wiped out, 3,451 kilometres (2,150 miles) of roads destroyed, and 149 bridges washed away.
Meanwhile, the government declared the devastating floods a “national emergency” and is seeking aid from friendly countries.
Reporting from Charsadda district in northern Pakistan, Al Jazeera’s Kama Hyder said rescue efforts have been further complicated by “ice-cold” water temperatures, with much of the flood waters coming from mountainous areas.
“The water is gushing and inundating the villagers, and that of course poses a grave threat,” he said. “There’s extensive damage to property…people are taking shelter under plastic sheets on top of poles. They’ve been telling us that they’ve been getting help from the local population who are bringing them food and water. However, they say they’re in bad need of tents and tarpaulins.”
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has postponed an official trip to the United Kingdom as he appealed for funds from friendly countries and international institutions.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – among other leaders – spoke to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif over the grim flood situation.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his support for Pakistan. “France stands ready to provide help,” he said in this tweet.
The Qatar Red Crescent Society on Saturday announced the allocation of $100,000 for the flood victims.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES