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Over 1,000 Killed by Heavy Flooding in Pakistan, 30 Million People Affected

Published: August 28, 2022
Stranded people along with their belongings wade through a flooded street after fleeing from their flood hit homes following heavy monsoon rains at Sohbatpur area in Jaffarabad district of Balochistan province on August 28, 2022. Pakistan's flooded southern Sindh province braced on August 28 for a fresh deluge from swollen rivers in the north as the death toll from this year's monsoon topped 1,000. (Image: Fida HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by FIDA HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Hundreds of Pakistanis were airlifted out of flood-ravaged regions on Sunday, Aug. 28 as the military joined national rescue and recovery efforts, following a devastating deluge of rain and floods which had left over 1,000 dead in the past month.

Crowds were seen surrounding helicopters deployed to evacuate stranded residents. Military-filmed footage showed relief packages being flung from aircraft. Boats also continued to transport people across vast areas of floodwater resembling lakes.

Unusually heavy monsoon rains have caused devastating floods in both the north and south of the country, affecting more than 30 million people and killing more than 1,000.

Pakistan’s army chief on Saturday visited the southern province of Balochistan, which has been hit heavily by torrential rain. In the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, flash floods swept away a large bridge overnight, cutting off some districts from road access.

Devastation seen from space

Before and after satellite images showed the scale of heavy flooding in Pakistan which has forced tens of thousands of people from their homes. The images taken and released by Maxar Technologies on Sunday (August 28) show high levels of flooding along the Indus River as well as the ciites of Rajanpur and Rojhan in the province of Punjab.

(Image: Reuters)
(Image: Reuters)

The South Asian nation was already in an economic crisis, facing high inflation, a depreciating currency and a current account deficit.

“I haven’t seen destruction of this scale, I find it very difficult to put into words” said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in an interview with Reuters, adding many crops that provided much of the population’s livelihoods had been wiped out.

Pakistan would this week launch an appeal asking United Nations member states to contribute to relief efforts, Bhutto-Zardari said, and the country needed to look at how it would handle the longer term impacts of climate change.

Bhutto-Zardari said after relief efforts, the country would have to look at how to develop infrastructure that was more resistant to both floods and droughts and address the huge changes faced by the agriculture sector.

The foreign minister said that although Pakistan contributes “negligible amounts to the overall carbon footprint … we are devastated by climate disasters such as these time and time again, and we have to adapt within our limited resources, in whatever way we can, to live in this new environment.”

Army soldiers distribute relief food bags to flood affected people in Shikarpur of Sindh province on August 28, 2022. (Image: ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Background crises

The South Asian nation was already in an economic crisis, facing high inflation, a depreciating currency, and a current account deficit.

The IMF board will decide this week on whether to release $1.2 billion as part of the seventh and eighth tranches of Pakistan’s bailout program, which it entered in 2019.

Bhutto-Zardari said the board was expected to approve the release given an agreement between Pakistani officials and IMF staff had already been reached and he hoped in coming months the IMF would recognize the impact of the floods.

Bhutto-Zardari, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, said the economic impact was still being assessed, but that some estimates had put it at $4 billion. Given the impact on infrastructure and people’s livelihoods, he said he expected the total figure would be much higher.

Boy saved by helicopter

A boy stranded in the middle of a heavily-flooded stream in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province was rescued by a helicopter during a mission operated by the army on Sunday.

Video footage shows how the pilots lowered the helicopter and the crew lifted the boy into the aircraft.

“Responding immediately, GOC Mangla Division and Commander Mangla Brigade, who were on flood assessment mission near Pattan, diverted from original flight to save the precious life,” said an army statement.

“Had they not reached on time the individual could have drowned in flood,” the statement added.

Helicopters of the Pakistan navy also rescued 75 residents of a submerged village who had taken refuge on their roofs, in the southern province of Sindh.

Historic monsoon rains and flooding in Pakistan have affected more than 30 million people over the last few weeks, the country’s climate change minister said, calling the situation a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions”.

Composite of reports by Reuters. (Production by Waseem Sattar, Sheree Sardar, Aiden Nulty, Salahuddin, Paul Warren, Sophia Wang, Salah Uddin, Sheree Sardar, Kokkai Ng)