Cataclysmic floods in Pakistan kill 1,100 people, including 380 children

  • 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 the world’s attention – António Guterres
  • Devastation ‘of international origin’ – UN Harneis

CHARSADDA, Pakistan, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Torrential rains and floods have submerged a third of Pakistan and killed more than 1,100 people, including 380 children, as the United Nations appealed for aid on Tuesday. which they called an “unprecedented climatic disaster”. “

Army helicopters snatched stranded families and dropped food parcels into inaccessible areas as the historic deluge, triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains, destroyed homes, businesses, infrastructure and crops, affecting 33 million people, 15% of the South Asian nation of 220 million.

The country received almost 190% more rain than the 30-year average in the quarter to August this year, totaling 390.7 millimeters (15.38 inches). Sindh province, with a population of 50 million, was the 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 Minister Sherry Rehman told Reuters, describing the scale of the disaster as “an unprecedented catastrophe”.

She said the water wasn’t going to recede anytime soon.

At least 380 children were among the dead, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told reporters during a briefing at his office in Islamabad.

“Pakistan is awash in suffering,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message, as the UN appealed for $160 million to help the South Asian nation. “Pakistani people face a monsoon on steroids – the relentless impact of period rain levels and floods.”

Guterres will travel to Pakistan next week to see the effects of the “unprecedented climate disaster”, a UN spokesman said.

He said the scale of the climate catastrophe is grabbing the world’s collective attention.

Nearly 300 stranded people, including tourists, were airlifted to northern Pakistan on Tuesday, a state-run disaster management agency said in a statement, while more than 50,000 people were moved 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 insufficient and diarrhea and fever were common at the shelter.

Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the northern Swat Valley and reviewed rescue and relief operations, saying “rehabilitation will take a very, very long time”.

The United States will provide $30 million to support Pakistan’s flood response through USAID, its embassy in Islamabad said in a statement, saying the country was “deeply saddened by the devastating loss of life. lives, livelihoods and homes across Pakistan”. Read more

“DUTY TO HELP”

Early estimates put flood damage at more than $10 billion, the government said, adding that the world had an obligation to help Pakistan cope with the effects of man-made climate change. Read more

Losses are likely to be much higher, the prime minister said.

Torrential rains triggered flash floods that battered the northern mountains, destroying buildings and bridges, and washing away roads and standing and stored crops.

Colossal volumes of water pour into the Indus River, which flows through the center of the country from its northern peaks to the southern plains, causing flooding along its entire length.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said hundreds of thousands of people were living outside without access to food, clean water, shelter or basic health care.

Guterres said the $160 million he hopes to raise from the appeal will 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 should “be multiplied rapidly”, promising that “every penny will reach the needy, there will be no waste”.

Sharif feared the devastation could further derail an already battered economy, possibly leading to acute food shortages and adding to soaring inflation, which stood at 24.9% in July.

Wheat plantings 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 management agency, said at least 72 of Pakistan’s 160 districts had been declared disaster-stricken.

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 even further as heavy rains continue over areas already inundated by more than two months of storms and flooding,” he said.

António Guterres called for a quick response to Pakistan’s request for help from the international community, and called for an end to “sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change”.

“The extreme monsoon floods tell us there is no time to waste, the climate tipping point is here,” said Rehman, the climate change minister, adding that Pakistan expects the developed world to ‘he won’t let him pay for other countries’ carbon. sustained 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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