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Women and children receive medical assistance at a relief camp for flood victims, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Charsadda. Image Credit: REUTERS

Islamabad: The devastating flash floods have killed at least 1,100 since mid-June and nearly 500,000 people are now in relief camps, officials said.

There are at least 386 children among 1,136 people who lost their lives in the floods, according to the latest National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). More than 1,600 have been injured in the destructive rains since June 14. Rescue efforts continue across Pakistan after catastrophic flooding that has affected 33 million people. The floods after heavy monsoon rains destroyed more than 900,000 homes, and swept away villages, crops and cattle across all four provinces. Around 3,457 kilometres of roads and 157 bridges have been destroyed in the floods.

‘Serious climate catastrophe’

Pakistan’s climate change minister Sherry Rehman said Pakistan is experiencing a “serious climate catastrophe, one of the hardest in the decade”. She said that “We are at the moment at the ground zero of the front line of extreme weather events, in an unrelenting cascade of heatwaves, forest fires, flash floods, multiple glacial lake outbursts, flood events and now the monster monsoon of the decade is wreaking non-stop havoc throughout the country.” Experts have also warned of the threat of food shortages due to extensive crop damage and a rise in waterborne diseases in the weeks ahead.

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Displaced people arrive on a tractor with their belongings at a makeshift camp after fleeing from their flood hit homes following heavy monsoon rains in Sukkur, Sindh province on August 29, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

$10 billion economic losses

Pakistani Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said that the economic losses caused by the severe floods ravaging the country could amount to $10 billion and cautioned that the damage could even go higher after the disaster assessment. The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) has declared recent flooding to be more devastating than the mega floods in 2010 that affected about 20 million Pakistanis.

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is supporting the Pakistan government “to help assess the flood damage using remote sensing and satellite imagery to support prioritization of humanitarian responses” said Dr Mohsin Hafeez, WMI country representative. The organization said that the unprecedented and early heatwave this year accelerated the melting of glaciers, creating thousands of glacial lakes in northern Pakistan, around 30 of which could cause a deluge.

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People travel in a trailer pulled by a tractor through a flooded area of Sohbatpur, a district of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, on Aug. 29, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Relief efforts

Pakistan’s armed forces, NDMA and government organizations, volunteers, charity and non-government organizations have all teamed up to continue relief work in flood-hit areas. Rescue and relief teams working on the ground say that tens of thousands of people still remain to be evacuated to safe places and while hundreds await medical care. Food and drinking water are urgently needed in far-flung areas while tents and shelters are desperately needed as people are homeless and living under the open sky.

China, UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, US, UK, EU, UN and others have contributed generously to the disaster appeal but Pakistani officials say more funds are needed to respond to the floods that have affected more than 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population. On Monday, Turkey sent two more planeloads of flood relief including food, tents and medical aid for the affected people.

Catastrophe in numbers
• 33 million affected by floods since mid-June rains and floods
• 1,136 lost their lives including 386 children
• 1,634 injured
• 992,000 houses either partially or fully destroyed
• 727,000 livestock lost
• 3,457 km of roads and 157 bridges damaged
• 498,800 persons in relief camps