Rescuers battle to reach Pakistan flood victims

With roads and bridges washed away, rescuers were on Sunday struggling to reach people in north-west Pakistan trapped by the worst floods in living memory which have killed 800 so far.

The United Nations said one million people had been affected, with whole towns cut off after days of torrential monsoon rains triggered flash floods and landslides.

“We still do not have the full picture because of the breakdown in communications, we have still difficulties to reach out to our offices in Nowshera, in Swat, in Charsada,” Manuel Bessler, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) in Pakistan, told the BBC.

“We have a planning figure of one million people affected directly by the floods.”

Thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland have been destroyed in the north-west and Pakistani Kashmir, with the main highway to China reportedly cut.


Hundreds of people have died in the hardest-hit province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where many impoverished families live in remote mountain villages.

“This is the worst ever flood in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the country’s history,” provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said.

“The death toll in floods and rain-related incidents has risen up to 800 across the province,” he said, with another 150 people missing.

Pakistan’s weather bureau said an “unprecedented” 312 millimetres of rain had fallen in 36 hours in the north-west but predicted only scattered showers during coming days.

In neighbouring Afghanistan, flash floods have killed at least 65 people and affected more than 1 000 families, officials said.

Pakistani television and photos shot from helicopters showed people clinging to the walls and roof tops of damaged houses as gushing waters rampaged through inundated villages.

Carrying their belongings and with children on their shoulders, some walked barefoot through the water to seek safety.

More than 3 700 houses had been swept away by floods and the number of homeless people was rising, the minister said.

The regional capital Peshawar, a city of three million, was cut off from the rest of the country as roads and highways were submerged, he said.

An Agence France-Presse reporter on Saturday saw hundreds of people streaming into the city, many of them without any belongings.

Muqaddir Khan (25) who arrived with nine other family members, told AFP he had lost everything.

“I laboured hard in Saudi Arabia for three years and set up a small shop which was swept away by flood in minutes,” Khan said.

Razia Bibi (48) said she and her family spent the night awake as water kept rising.

“My house is now gone under water and I could escape with a few belongings,” Bibi told AFP.

Authorities are using school buildings as emergency shelters for those affected by the floods.

The army said it had sent boats and helicopters to rescue stranded people and its engineers were trying to open roads and divert water from key routes.

The European Commission said it had given €30-million ($39-million) in humanitarian aid to help the most needy.

“Pakistan has been hit by terrible floods and more rain is forecast. Our thoughts are with those affected by them,” said humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

The flooding capped a week of tragedy for Pakistan after an airliner crashed into hills near Islamabad Wednesday, killing 152 people on board.

The Karakoram Highway, which links Pakistan to China, was closed as rains washed away a bridge in Shangla district, also cutting off Gilgit-Baltistan from other parts of the country, media reports said.

Northwest Pakistan has been hardest hit but monsoon rains have also killed 25 people in the southwestern province of Baluchistan over the past few days. – AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lehaz Ali
“Award loosing & Lifafa Journalist” Expressive & Gypsy @AfP, @Neo @Naibaat Covering KP and erstwhile FATA,....Tweets are my own Lehaz Ali has over 1634 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Khaya Sithole: Lessons to be learned from partitions

South Africa’s economic, racial and social divides invite unrest that will leave us all worse off

India and China border conflict intensifies

A frontier dispute between the two Asian giants turned deadly for the first time in 45 years. Observers argue the skirmish was exacerbated by Delhi’s annexation of Kashmir and Ladakh

Censorship, surveillance could be the biggest rights challenges post Covid-19

The impacts of these infringements could last well beyond the life of the Covid-19 pandemic

Surviving Covid-19 — and Modi

A religious and nationalist agenda has replaced the promise of development and left India ill-equipped to manage the pandemic

Terrorism used as excuse to suppress Kashmir

Within India, the Bharatiya Janata Party government is stoking Islamophobia by using religion as an instrument of identity politics

Kashmir: Modi’s threat to India’s democracy

The revocation of the contested territory’s special status marks a dangerous Hindu-nationalist shift
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

Football legend Maradona dies

The Argentinian icon died at his home on Wednesday, two weeks after having surgery on a blood clot in his brain

Why no vaccine at all is better than a botched...

As Covid vaccines near the manufacturing stage, a look at two polio vaccines provides valuable historical insights

Under cover of Covid, Uganda targets LGBTQ+ shelter

Pandemic rules were used to justify a violent raid on a homeless shelter in Uganda, but a group of victims is pursuing a criminal case against the perpetrators
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…