Pakistan witnessed another day of deaths and devastation on Saturday as dozens of people were left dead and thousands stranded as a result of landslides and floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) amid “high to very high” floods in Kabul and Indus rivers.
Meanwhile, a rain emergency remained in place in several areas of the province in the wake of unprecedented rains that pushed most of the country into a crisis.
- Death toll from floods, landslides in Swat reaches 15 as 3 more killed
- KP CM’s helicopter deployed to rescue stranded tourists, deliver food in isolated areas
- Evacuations under way in several KP areas amid ‘very high flood’ in Nowshera, where the water level in the Kabul River has risen above 300,000 cusecs
- 150 tourists reported stranded in Upper Dir, Kalam and Swat for the past 3 days
- Pesco instructed to ensure uninterrupted power supply to all KP districts
- PM Shehbaz reaches Sujawal district in Sindh to review relief and rescue efforts, announces Rs38 billion for flood affectees
- Army chief to visit flood-hit areas of Sindh today as military troops accelerate relief operations across the country
- KP CM visits flood-affected areas in Swat and Lower Dir, announces Rs1 billion for victims
- Damage to optical fibre cables and power outages affecting internet services in several areas of KP, says PTA
- Gilgit-Baltistan suffers financial losses amounting to Rs10 billion during floods, says information minister
- PTI chief Imran Khan announces telethon to raise funds for flood affectees
At present, more than half of Pakistan is under water and millions of people have been rendered homeless as a result of flash flooding generated by abnormal monsoon rains which have entered their eighth spell with no signs of subsiding.
According to the latest estimates, nearly 1,000 people, including 300 children, have lost their lives because of rains and resulting flooding that has impacted nearly 33 million people – almost 15 per cent of the country’s population.
Deaths in Swat, tourists stranded in Lower Dir
A day after a rain emergency was declared in Swat, the district’s additional deputy commissioner, Abrar Wazir, said on Saturday that landslides and floods had claimed a total of 15 lives in different areas.
On Friday, 12 deaths in the district were linked to rains, floods and related incidents.
The additional deputy commissioner said in a statement today that roads spread over 130 kilometres had been damaged and 15 bridges were completely destroyed due to floods so far, while over 100 houses and around 50 hotels and restaurants were also destroyed.
The official said a team had been constituted to estimate the extent of further damage.
Later in the day, KP Secretary of Information and Public Relations Arshad Khan said that over 500,000 cusecs of water had flooded the province.
“The government has started rescue and relief efforts in all affected areas, while the work on the restoration of road infrastructure is going on on an emergency basis,” he told media persons in Swat.
Arshad also said that the helicopter used by KP CM had been deployed for the flood operations. “It will be used to rescue tourists stranded across the province and to provide food items to isolated areas.”
The government has further sought more helicopters from the Pakistan Army, the official added.
By Saturday evening, the first helicopter from Kabal left for Kalam. Swat Deputy Commissioner Junaid Khan said that it would bring back tourists stranded in Kalam. “Once it lands, the tourists will be sent back home via special local transport,” he said.
There were reports of 30 tourists being stranded in Upper Dir as well. Deputy Commissioner Akmal Khan Khattak told Dawn.com that they were safe and had been accommodated in hotels.
“About 15 people are stranded on the left side of the river along with the hotel staff,” he added.
In Shangla, the district administration has started dispatching non-food relief items to all the tehsils, District Disaster Management Officer (DDMO) Muneeba Fatima told Dawn.com.
She said that the district’s revenue staff was at the field collecting information on the damage.
Separately, officials of Rescue 1122 told Dawn.com that seven people stranded near the Ranolia River in Kohistan have been rescued.
‘Very high flood’ in Kabul River
Meanwhile, Nowshera Deputy Commissioner (DC) Mir Reza Ozgen renewed his call for the relocation of the district’s residents to safer places as flow in Kabul River rose above 300,000 cusecs, resulting in a “very high flood” in the water body.
According to DawnNewsTV, the flooding caused widespread devastation in the district, submerging several villages.
On Friday, the Kabul River and Swat River in KP experienced “very high floods” at several other locations, triggering evacuations by the authorities from low-lying areas and imposition of emergency in many districts.
Subsequently, calls were made for the evacuation of residents from Nowshera and Charsadda keeping in view the increased risk of flooding as water levels in the rivers rose and part of Munda headworks, which regulates the flow of the Swat River, collapsed.
The Nowshera DC urged for evacuations again today morning, saying in a statement that there was a “very high flood” in the Kabul River in the district.
“The water level in the Kabul River in Nowshera has crossed 250,000 cusecs,” said the statement, adding the water level was rising further.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority in KP issued a statement around the same time, saying that the water level in the river in Nowshera was recorded at 315,262 cusecs. It added that the river’s water level in Virk had reached 130,364 cusecs.
Meanwhile, the Nowshera DC appealed to citizens to move to safer locations. He said relief camps had been set up for people affected by floods and urged them to shift there.
Meanwhile, flood water entered the district’s Pir Sabaq area, yet again prompting the district administration to urge citizens to relocate.
Nowshera Additional Deputy Commissioner Quratul Ain Wazir told Dawn.com on Saturday evening that all the people had been evacuated from the low-lying areas of the district. “We are closely monitoring the flood situation and water level of the Kabul River,” she told Dawn.com
The district administration, army and rescue teams were deployed on standby, the ADC said, adding that the danger was not over yet.
The additional deputy commissioner added that protection walls along the Kabul River had collapsed in Pir Sabaq and as a result, water had entered houses and markets.
Sharing details about other areas, she said evacuations were under way since last night and so far, 700 families from the Pashtun Gari area had been shifted to a relief camp while another 300 had been evacuated from Pabbi.
“Our top priority is rescue operations to save lives,” she said, adding that the administration had also provided food packages and other relief items to those affected by floods.
Evacuations in several other areas of KP had begun on Friday as they witnessed devastation with the Kabul River and Swat River experiencing “very high floods” at many spots.
A district administration official told Dawn at the time that nearly 200,000 people were evacuated to safer places in Charsadda by Friday night.
According to the PDMA report today, the district administration has established 17 relief camps in the district where 2,230 people have been accommodated. Meanwhile, 180,000 residents have been moved to safer locations.
KP Finance Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra visited Charsadda along with local leaders today.
In a tweet, he said that 183,000 people had been evacuated from the district, adding that a similar operation was underway in Nowshera.
“The economic cost will be huge. But we will pull out all the stops,” he assured.
According to Rescue 1122, relief and rescue operations continued on Saturday in Peshawar as well.
A statement issued by Rescue 1122 said Mian Gujjar, Jala Bela, Takhtabad and other areas were affected by floods in the city.
It added that a relief camp had been set up by Rescue 1122 at the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority tweeted that damages to optical fibre cables and power outages have been reported in Chitral, Upper Dir, Donbala, Swat, Medan, Lal Qila Simarbaghdir, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, impacting connectivity services.
“PTA is monitoring the situation closely. Work is underway to fully restore services,” it added.
The death toll from rain-induced floods was recorded at 42 in the province by Friday night.
KP CM announces Rs1 billion for victims
Later in the day, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, accompanied by PTI leader Murad Saeed, visited flood-hit areas of Swat and Lower Dir to assess the damage caused by the floods and overview the relief efforts underway.
Talking to media persons in Mingora, he announced Rs1 billion for flood victims across the province. “Another Rs5 billion will be approved soon too.”
He said that the government has commenced a helicopter service for Swat to assist with rescue operations. “We are trying to provide every possible assistance to every person affected.”
The CM highlighted that Kalam road had been affected in three places, emphasising that its restoration was the first priority. He also urged the federal government to step up and announce funds for Swat and other areas of KP saying that the damage inflicted there was unprecedented.
“Whatever may come, I promise that I will not leave the side of even a single person during these tough times,” Mahmood added.
Meanwhile, PTI’s Saeed said that relief work had been started on a priority basis and promised that Swat would be “cleaned” and tourists in the district will be rescued within the next 24 hours.
Ahead of the CM’s visit, the Malakand commissioner told Dawn.com that over 150 tourists were stuck in Lower Dir, Swat and Kalam for the past three days.
Separately, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Political and Public Affairs Amir Muqam chaired a high-level meeting and imposed an emergency at the Peshawar Electric Power Company (Pesco).
He instructed the company to provide uninterrupted power supply to all districts of KP, keeping in view of the emergency situation.
PM visits Sujawal, allocates Rs38 billion to assist flood affectees
In Sindh, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reached Sujawal on Saturday to visit flood-affected areas in the district, review relief work and also meet flood victims.
He was accompanied by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
During the visit, the Sindh chief secretary, Provincial Disaster Management Authority director general and local administration, among others, briefed the prime minister about the ongoing relief and rehabilitation activities in the district.
Speaking to the media, the PM said that the federal government had allocated a grant of Rs38 billion to support each flood-affected family with a disbursement of Rs25,000.
Speaking to the flood-affected people, the premier said he had already announced a grant of Rs15 billion to Sindh province while the distribution of flood relief amount among each family had commenced in Sindh province after Balochistan under Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP)
“Unfortunately, huge losses are being witnessed across the country, but with joint and continuous efforts, we will overcome the challenges faced in the wake of this natural catastrophe,” he said, also expressing concern over the worsening flood situation in KP.
In Swat and Kalam, he said, flash floods had caused human and financial losses and swept away road infrastructure and bridges. And now, the premier continued, the flood was heading towards Charsadda and Nowshera.
The PM also mentioned that Munda headworks had been severely damaged due to floods in KP.
He assured that district administrations, rescue agencies and the armed forces had been fully supporting relief operations and evacuating people to safe places.
In a tweet later, PM Shehbaz said that the magnitude of the calamity was bigger than estimated and called on the nation to come together and fund the victims.
Meanwhile, in Punjab’s Dera Ghazi Khan, Rescue 1122 teams shifted people to safer locations in boats after water entered houses and washed away other buildings, the provincial government said in a tweet on Saturday.
It added that they were utilising all the resources to provide aid to the flood affectees.
Imran announces international telethon to raise funds for flood victims
Separately, PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced today that he would hold an international telethon to raise funds for flood affectees on Monday.
“Imran Tigers will be activated to volunteer for relief work. A committee under Sania Nishtar will be set up to identify and coordinate funds allocation based on needs,” he tweeted.
Dozens killed in Gilgit-Baltistan, houses and roads washed away
Rain and floods have not spared Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as well, the provincial disaster management authority’s deputy director, Zaheeruddin Babar, told Dawn.com.
“In the last two months, 17 people have died and three injured in 110 incidents of rains and floods in the region,” he said. “Yesterday, six people died after they were swept away by floods in Ghizer.”
Babar revealed that among the people who died in the rains, 12 belonged to Ghazor, 3 hailed from Diamer and two from Hunza.
So far, he went on, 540 houses have been completely destroyed and 88 houses were partially damaged due to the floods during July and August. “53 bridges, 22 hydropower plants, 49 roads in different districts, 500 irrigation channels and 78 water tanks have been washed away,” the deputy director said.
Meanwhile, GB Minister for Information Fateh Ullah said that the region had suffered financial losses amounting to Rs10 billion.
“The district administration has established relief centres in Diamar, Skardu and Gilgit so that donations can be collected from the public and delivered to the deserving,” he added.
Situation in Balochistan
Meanwhile, Balochistan’s misery, which has probably suffered the most in the aftermath of devastating monsoon rains this year, continues.
Highways linking Balochistan with other provinces remained non-operational on Friday as relentless rains and floods did not allow authorities to repair the damaged arteries.
Meanwhile, another bridge on the Quetta-Sukkur also suffered damage due to flooding in the Bolan River.
Quetta and its outskirts remained submerged as a 36-hour-long rain spell inundated most parts of the provincial capital, bringing life to a standstill and leaving hundreds of families without homes.
In Nawan Killi, Chashma Achozai, Pashtoonabad, Hazara town, Faisal town, various localities in Sariab, Sabzal road and western and eastern bypass areas, the flood water forced the people to leave their homes.
The situation in the Nasirabad division further deteriorated as overflowing Bolan, Lehri and Nari rivers hit the protection dams in Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Jhal Magsi and Sohbatpur districts. At least 100 villages were submerged after the Sabri dam was breached.
And to add to the province’s miseries, the capital now also faces an acute liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage, as authorities could not repair two gas pipelines washed away by floods in the Bolan River on Friday,
The 12-inch diameter pipeline, which supplies gas to Quetta and other towns of Balochistan, was swept away near Bibi Nani areas of the Bolan district a week after a 24-inch main pipeline was washed away in a flash flood last week.
Subsequently, long queues of people were witnessed at LPG dealers’ shops carrying gas cylinders.
“We are here in a long queue for two hours but gas is not available,” Tariq Ali, a resident, told Dawn.
The shop owners said that they were also “paying extra money to the LPG dealers” owing to the lack of LPG in the market. The dealers were importing gas from Iran and Karachi and due to the closure of highways the LPG supply had been suspended.
Telephone and internet services were disrupted in several parts of Balochistan due to damage caused by torrential rains. The services were partially restored in 10 districts of the province by Friday night.
Highest level of flash floods, rains in history: Marriyum
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Lahore, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Pakistan had never faced such a high level of flash floods and intensity of rains in its history.
She said the country has witnessed 190 per cent more heavy rains, while Balochistan and Sindh provinces received 400pc and 480pc more torrential rains, respectively.
Aurangzeb added that Pakistanis must show the same spirit and resolve, they had shown during the 2005 earthquake and flash floods of 2010, and donate the maximum possible for flood affectees.
COAS to visit Sindh, Balochistan; army accelerates relief work
Separately, the military’s media affairs wing also said on Friday that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa would be visiting the flood-affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan today (Saturday) to review the situation there.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the army chief would meet the troops busy in relief and rescue efforts.
According to Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman, Sindh and Balochistan have shown the largest deviations from the average expected rainfall in August.
“Our cities are not designed for such torrential downpours without a break,” she tweeted, sharing data from the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
On Saturday, the ISPR said in a statement that the Pakistan Army had accelerated relief efforts in flood-hit areas across the country during the last 24 hours.
The statement said that5,487 ration packs and more than 1,200 tents had been distributed among the flood affectees, while over 25,000 patients had been treated so far.
“In addition 117 relief camps have also been established all over the country. To help the flood victims, 7,522 troops of the army are currently employed along with 50 boats whereas 25 field medical camps have also been established,” the ISPR said.
It added that country-wide army collection points were being established to synergize the efforts to collect and distribute relief items.
Briefing about the flood situation across provinces, the military’s media affairs wing said that light to moderate and heavy showers were recorded across the country, with Malam Jabba (58mm) receiving the maximum rainfall.
Currently, the ISPR said, the Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab and Sutlej Rivers were flowing normally.
“The Indus River is at very high flood level in Attock, Taunsa and Sukkur. Medium flood levels have been recorded at Chashma, Guddu and Kotri.
“Low flood levels have been recorded at Tarbela and Kalabagh,” the ISPR said, adding that the Kabul River was very high at Nowshera and Warsak.
River Swat was also at a high flood level at Munda, it said.
The statement also highlighted the areas that were massively affected during the floods, which included the Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Khuzdar, Sibbi, Naseerabad, Jafferabad, Jhalmagsi, Lasbela, Sohbatpur and Musakhel districts in South Punjab and Balochistan.
In Sindh, Tando Allahyar, Khairpur, Badin, Dadu, Sukkur, Qambarshahdad Kot, Ghotki and Larkana were affected. Meanwhile, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Swat, Nowshera and Charsadda were flooded in KP, while Gilgit Baltistan’s Gilgit city, Hunza and Ghizar had been affected, the ISPR said.
On Friday, flight and train operations remain suspended in several areas of the country owing to bad weather conditions.
The government has sought international assistance to cope with the devastation and while many global bodies and countries have pledged funds for relief work, the international community’s response to the government’s appeal has been slow so far.
More to follow