April 22, 2024

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Pakistan looks like a sea after floods, says prime minister, with 18 more dead

Pakistan looks like a sea after floods, says prime minister, with 18 more dead

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Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Wednesday that parts of Pakistan looked like a “sea” after visiting some of the flood-affected areas that cover up to a third of the South Asian country. Another 18 deaths brought the death toll from rainy days to 1,343.

Officials estimate that as many as 33 million of a population of 220 million have been affected in a disaster blamed on climate change that has left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and caused at least $10 billion in losses.

“You won’t believe the scale of the destruction there,” Sharif told the media after a visit to the southern province of Sindh. “It’s water everywhere as far as you can see. It’s just like the sea.”

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He added that the government, which has increased cash assistance for flood victims to 70 billion Pakistani rupees ($313.90 million), will buy 200,000 tents to house the displaced families.

Sherif said that the receding water threatens a new challenge represented in water-borne infectious diseases.

“We will need trillions of rupees to face this disaster.”

The United Nations has called for $160 million to help flood victims.

And many affected are Sindh, where Pakistan’s largest freshwater lake is perilously close to bursting its banks, even after being breached in the process displacing 100,000 people.

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National disaster officials said eight children were among the dead in the past 24 hours. The floods were caused by record monsoon rains and thaw in the northern mountains of Pakistan.

The raging waters washed away 1.6 million homes, 5,735 kilometers (3,564 miles) of transportation links, 750,000 head of livestock, and flooded more than 2 million acres (809,370 hectares) of farmland.

Provincial government spokesman Mortada Wahab said officials in Sindh expect the waters to recede in the next few days.

“Our strategy now is to prepare to plant wheat as soon as the water recedes,” he added.

But with more rain expected next month, the situation could worsen, a senior official at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned.

Already, the World Health Organization said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas.

Pakistan received nearly 190% more rain than the 30-year average in July and August, totaling 391 mm (15.4 in), with Sindh receiving 466% more rain than average.

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(Additional reporting by Syed Reza Hassan in Sehwan and Asif Shehzad in Islamabad.) Written by Alasdair Pal. Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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