Pakistan witnessed deadly floods since June this year and over one thousand people were killed with the country’s climate minister terming the monsoon season “a serious climate catastrophe.”
Many villages have been washed away in the floods while the forces and rescue workers have evacuated stranded residents and provided food to thousands of displaced Pakistanis, AP reported. Agricultural fields have also sustained extensive damage.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority reported the death toll since the monsoon season began earlier than normal this year- in mid-June- reached 1,033 people after new fatalities were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southern Sindh provinces.
Sherry Rehman, a Pakistani senator and the country’s top climate official, said in a video posted on Twitter that Pakistan is experiencing a “serious climate catastrophe, one of the hardest in the decade”.
“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,” she said.
The on-camera statement was retweeted by the country’s ambassador to the European Union, the report said.
Flooding from the Swat River overnight affected northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where tens of thousands of people- especially in the Charsadda and Nowshehra districts- have been evacuated from their homes to relief camps set up in government buildings. Many have also taken shelter on roadsides, AP quoted Kamran Bangash, a spokesperson for the provincial government, as saying.
Quoting Bangash further, the report said some 1,80,000 people have been evacuated from Charsadda and 1,50,000 from Nowshehra district villages.
Khaista Rehman, 55, no relation to the climate minister, took shelter with his wife and three children on the side of the Islamabad-Peshawar highway after his home in Charsadda was submerged overnight.
The unprecedented monsoon season has affected all four of the country’s provinces. Nearly 3,00,000 homes have been destroyed, numerous roads rendered impassable and electricity outages have been widespread, affecting millions of people, the news agency report said.
Rehman told Turkish news outlet TRT World that by the time the rains recede, “we could well have one-fourth or one-third of Pakistan underwater”.
“This is something that is a global crisis and of course, we will need better planning and sustainable development on the ground… We’ll need to have climate resilient crops as well as structures,” she was quoted as saying.
In May, Rehman told BBC Newshour that both the country’s north and south were witnessing extreme weather events because of rising temperatures.
“So in north actually just now we are… experiencing what is known as glacial lake outburst floods which we have many of because Pakistan is home to the highest number of glaciers outside the polar region.”
The news agency added that the Pakistan government has deployed soldiers to help civilian authorities in rescue and relief operations across the country. Military chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited flood-affected areas of southern Sindh province to expedite relief work there, it said.
The report quoting the Pakistan army statement said it airlifted 22 tourists trapped in a valley in the country’s north to safety.