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Sunday, June 4, 2023

Pakistan’s Nasty Flood likely to drown wounded Economy

Flood in Pakistan: A third of Pakistan has been completely submerged in historic floods, climate minister says.

Devastating flash floods washed away roads, homes and crops, leaving deadly destruction across Pakistan.

“It’s all one big ocean, there’s no dry land to drain the water,” Sherry Rehman said, calling it a “crisis of unimaginable proportions.”

At least 1,136 people have died since the monsoon season began in June, according to officials.


The summer rain is the heaviest on record in a decade and the government is blaming it on climate change.

“Literally, one-third of Pakistan is under water right now, which has exceeded every limit, every norm that we have seen in the past,” Rehman told AFP.

“We have never seen anything like this,” the minister added.

Of those known to have died, 75 were reported in the past 24 hours alone, officials said Monday, with the death toll expected to rise.


Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said in an interview with the BBC that a third of those killed were children.

“We are still dealing with the extent of the damage,” he added.

Officials estimate that more than 33 million Pakistanis – one in seven people – have been affected by the historic floods.

Heavy waters in the country’s northern Swat valley swept away bridges and roads and cut off entire villages.


Thousands of people living in the mountainous region have been ordered to evacuate – but even with the help of helicopters, authorities are still trying to reach those trapped.

“Village after village has been wiped out. Millions of houses have been destroyed,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Sunday after flying a helicopter over the area.

Those who managed to escape were crammed into one of the many makeshift camps across the country.

“Living here is miserable. Our self-respect is at stake,” flood-affected Fazal Malik told AFP from a school that was being used as a home for about 2,500 evacuees in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


Provinces such as Sindh and Balochistan are the worst affected, but mountainous areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also been hit hard.

This year’s record monsoon is on par with the devastating floods of 2010 – the deadliest in Pakistan’s history – which left more than 2,000 dead.

Concerns are also growing about the looming costs of rebuilding after the disaster, and the Pakistani government has appealed for financial assistance from aid agencies, friendly countries and international donors.

“The very early preliminary estimate is that it is big, in excess of $10bn (£8.5bn),” Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters.


Almost half of the country’s cotton crop was washed away, and vegetable, fruit and rice fields suffered significant damage, he added.

But Mr Sharif said the renewal of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worth around $1.2bn (£1bn) in the coming year would be a big help in reviving the economy.

The program, which Pakistan joined in 2019, was suspended earlier this year after Islamabad failed to meet the lender’s targets.

On Saturday, the British government announced it had set aside up to 1.5 million pounds ($1.8 million) for flood relief.


Separately, Queen Elizabeth II. she said she was “deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life and destruction” caused by the floods.

“The UK stands in solidarity with Pakistan as it embarks on its recovery,” she added.

A rice farmer near the town of Sukkur in southeastern Sindh province told AFP his fields had been destroyed by floods.

“Our harvest covered over 5,000 acres, on which the best quality rice was sown and which you and we eat,” said 70-year-old Khalil Ahmed. “Everything is done.


Sindh is so inundated with water that rescuers are struggling to reach those in need.

“There are no airstrips or airstrips available… it is difficult for our pilots to land,” a Pakistani military official told AFP.

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