Deluge leaves trail of devastation

People at relief camps complain of water shortage, dearth of food for infants

Ehtesham Khan August 30, 2022
Residents gather beside a road damaged by floodwaters following heavy downpours. PHOTO: AFP


 ‘Misery loves company’ is the terse narration of the ordeal endured by Basirat Bibi of Dera Ismail Khan district – displaced twice by the devastating rains and subsequent flooding in the southern parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) earlier this month.

Bibi left her village in the Parwa Tehsil after her mud house collapsed in rains in the first week of this month. Bibi, along with her family of five, came to a relief camp established by the government in a sports complex in Dera Ismail Khan.

But because of heavy rains for the last two days, the relief camp was flooded, too, forcing the authorities to move more than 600 families elsewhere. Now, 41-year-old Bibi is with around 1,500 displaced families lodged at another camp in the Government higher secondary school.

However, her ordeal does not end here. There are still problems that she faces along with other people at the camp. “The camp is very hot. Rice is served but there is no provision for the infants. There is also shortage of water,” she told The Express Tribune.

Dera Ismail Khan is among the worst-affected districts of K-P because of the rains and floods. At least 20 people died and 70 others sustained injuries in the rain-related incidents in the district. Besides 27,294 houses were destroyed, including 15,406 houses swept away by floods, according to official data.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), the floods also destroyed 10 schools and damaged a number of local health units and other government properties. Some 953 animals were swept away in the recent floods.

“The most-affected district among the southern districts of K-P is Dera Ismail Khan where Parwa, Draban and Drundazah tehsils are completely submerged and 60% of the Dera tehsil,” District Police Officer Najamul Hasan told The Express Tribune.

“In the first phase of the flood,” the DPO said, “the district administration and rescue teams along with the police shifted the marooned people to safer places”. Hassan added that at present a relief operation was going on in the affected areas.

According to K-P government spokesperson Barrister Saif relief camps had been established in the southern districts, while two government helicopters had been allocated for relief work because those could not be used for rescue operations.

Recalling the horrors of the rain, Bibi said that her house was reduced to a few pieces of timber and a heap of rubble, making it impossible for them to spend the night. “The flood destroyed our village within minutes. Cattle drowned in flood. There was only water in and around the village.”

Flooded south

“I don’t know what’s next. We did not get enough time to take out the belongings, only saved the children’s lives,” Bibi said. Sitting in relief camp, she added: “Just praying to Allah that the rain stops and the water goes out from our village.”

Since June 15, more than 200 people have died due to floods in the southern districts of K-P, PDMA Director General Muhammad Sharif said. He added that Tank and Lakki Marwat districts and the entire Waziristan region were also badly affected by the rains and flash floods.

Giving a breakdown of casualties in these areas, Sharif said that four people died and 10 were injured in Tank, 12 died in Lakki Marwat, 14 died in South Waziristan district and another 4 in North Waziristan. He added that several villages were cut off because of the deluge and submerged roads.

Zubair Marwat, a resident of Lakki Marwat district, told The Express Tribune that several roads and bridges were severely damaged due to the recent rain, adding that the people were facing severe difficulties because of the closure of the roads.

He mentioned that the busy Lakki-Darrah-Tang Road, which connects K-P to Islamabad via Punjab and a major route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the Maila-Mandrakhel-Zangikhel Road had been swept away in the flood.

According to local government minister Faisal Amin Ghandapur, out of the 45,000 houses destroyed in K-P, 36,761 were in Dera Ismail Khan alone whereas there was no sign left of 200 villages.

It was said that 40,000 hectares of agricultural land was destroyed in Dera Ismail Khan.

The minister said that the government was facing difficulty in relief and rescue operation in far-flung areas and border towns near Punjab.

He said they had requested NHA for help but did not receive any response, adding that the provincial government had started the heli service but still a number of areas were to be covered.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2022.

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