PESHAWAR: Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa Information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said Saturday that the death toll in the floods has risen above 800.
Hussain said that the death reports have come in from districts around the region this past week. Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa has been the hardest hit province in the extraordinary flooding triggered by the monsoon rains.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, speaking to the media in Islamabad said that he has personally visited Naran and Kaghan valleys and has issued directions for restoration of infrastructure and availability of medical facilities in the area.
Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) DG Shakeel Khan Qadir said they were not prepared for handling devastation on such a large scale which has marooned millions of people in the province.
US provides aid
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson said the US has accelerated relief assistance to the flood affected areas of Pakistan.
In a press release from Islamabad, the Ambassador said the US has announced aid for the affected people at the request of NDMA.
She said a water filtration plant will be provided which will facilitate more than 10,000 people and food will be provided to 50,000 affectees with the help of the Army.
Patterson added that 12 temporary bridges will be put up in place of damaged ones in areas of Peshawar and Kurram Agency.
She also mentioned that US helicopters are engaged in relief and rescue activities and four Zodiac boats will also be provided to NDMA.
Floods in Punjab
Water has inundated major portions of Mianwali. Currently, about 800,000 cusecs of water is passing through the area causing flooding in several districts.
More than 60 villages have been affected by torrential rain and floods in Dera Ghazi Khan and link bridges have collapsed. 600,000 cusecs of water has passed through Layyah whereas water continues to rise in the area, forcing hundreds of families to move.
River Indus is in full flood and the army has dynamited four dykes along the Jinnah Hydropower Project to protect it from the force of the water. Flood water is passing through Taunsa as army teams evacuate people to safer locations.
Updated from print edition (below)
Nature unleashes fury
At least 408 people have been killed so far in three days of flash floods and landslides unleashed by torrential monsoon rains in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa alone, with a nationwide tally topping the 500-mark.
And a minister warned on Friday that the heaviest floodwaters of Pakistan’s history are now heading towards the plains of Punjab and Sindh and might wreak havoc there.
State Information Minister Sumsam Bukhari told a news conference in Islamabad that 0.9 million cusecs of water would reach Sukkur Barrage in Sindh in about a week to make it the heaviest flooding in 80 years.
Alarm was sounded as hundreds of homes and thousands of hectares (acres) of cultivated land were destroyed in the northwest and AJK, with the main highway to China reportedly cut off and communities left isolated.
“The lives of around 50,000 people in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are at risk,” says Provincial Disaster Management Authority director-general Shakeel Qadir Khan, adding that there is an urgent need for at least 45,000 tents.
Authorities warn that the death toll could rise further. “Many areas are inaccessible and we don’t know how many have died there,” an official said. “The floods have left a trail of destruction,” provincial minister Iftikhar Hussain said. “This is the worst-ever flood in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the country’s history,”Iftikhar Hussain told a news conference. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority admitted that nothing was in their control anymore. The infrastructure across the province has been badly affected, with 60 bridges washed away. The Motorway has been closed; railway tracks have been inundated, making them inoperable.
All development projects in the province have been ordered to be halted by the government until the emergency situation persists. More than 30kms of the Silk Route have been washed away. Most of the hospitals were non-functional and the injured in most cases had nowhere to go to seek treatment. In Nowshera, for example, 25 people were found stranded on top of a submerged hospital.
Peshawar city too has been submerged, with water entering the city from all sides. At least 23 people have been confirmed dead in the provincial capital. On the outskirts of the city, 2500 shanty houses were destroyed. A woman and her child were also reported to have drowned there.
Shakeel Qadir said that DI Khan is going to be the worst hit as flood water will enter into the district in the early hours of Saturday.
About 50,000 cusecs of water has been discharged from the Tarbela Dam. However, there is a danger that this additional water which should flow out of the province would instead bounce back and hit other areas, officials say. This additional water is currently flowing towards D.I. Khan.
Officials have allocated at least 10,000 tents for DI Khan keeping in view the current scenario.
The Wasiq Dam was also opened and the overflowing water was allowed to flow out because of which a red alert was issued in the nearby areas. The water flowed out to the three tributaries Naguman, Khayali and Sarage.
The catastrophe in Shangla district caused the death of at least 115 people (details in separate story). In Koozana, nine people died and seven people drowned in Damori.
In Upper Dir district, a total of 27 people died and about 25 houses were destroyed. The single biggest incident there occurred when lightning struck a house killing 12 members of a family. Eyewitnesses Iftikhar and Usman said “The 12 dead were from the Riyasat family which included 8 children, 2 women and 2 male members.”
Nowshera too witnessed large scale destruction and around 15 people have died there, most of them women and children. The worst affected areas of Nowshera include Pir Sabaq, Mohiq Banda, Amaan Goth and Pashtun Gaddi. Attakhel and Chowkidar areas don’t exist anymore.
In Kohat, at least 19 people died and 8 received serious injuries.
Despite the precarious condition, the provincial government has instructed security personnel to remain present at sensitive locations and carry out their duties as there was still a threat of terrorism in the province.
The government has appealed to the international community for help. The government says around 17 helicopters are in the area undertaking relief activities. An American embassy spokesperson said it had provided seven helicopters to the government, of which five are operating in Swat and two in Nowshera.
According to K-P information minister, 150 people are missing, and that floods washed away 200 km of main roads and link roads. “At least 600,000 people have been affected and the number was likely to go up as water levels continue to rise in rivers in Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsada,” the minister said.
Swat, Shangla and Peshawar were cut off from the rest of country as roads and highways were submerged in water, he said.
Provincial relief commissioner Shakil Qadir said the worst-hit area was Malakand, where 102 people died and 16,000 were marooned because bridges have collapsed and road links been cut. Qadir said that around 2,800 holidaymakers had been stranded in the Swat valley.
At least 11 people died on Friday, three of them girls, in various parts of Gilgit-Baltistan as torrential rains continue to wreck havoc in Gilgit-Baltistan, senior government officials said.
Four bridges have also been swept away by the rising flood in various parts of the region, isolating them from the rest of the region.
In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, another 33 people were killed and more than 55 injured Thursday as dozens of houses collapsed due to heavy rains, said AJK Prime Minister Sardar Atique Ahmed. The army said it had sent boats to rescue stranded people and army engineers were attempting to open roads and divert the waters from key routes.
The monsoon in Balochistan has killed 25 people over the past few days, senior officer of the disaster management authority Ataullah Khan told AFP in Quetta on Friday. Flash floods have affected eight districts, he said, adding that around 275,000 people have been affected and more than 15,000 houses have been destroyed.
Around 1,000 villages are inundated in Naseerabad district, rendering over 25,000 families homeless. The entire communication system has been disrupted, and the whole population left marooned in unprecedented floods in Sibi and Kachhi plains. The people lost their entire belongings, including food stock and household articles.
Commissioner Sher Khan Bazai told the media that standing crops on over 100,000 acres in a single district had been destroyed. Floods have also washed away 78 km of roads or damaged them badly. The communication between districts and human settlements within the divisions stood disrupted till Friday evening.
The “super flood” warning from the upcountry has created fear and anxiety among the people living in Katcha areas of Sindh. Government officials speak of the possibility of water breaching the protective bunds.
Following the threat district administrations have been put on high alert. They have been directed to relocate people from the Katcha areas to the camps set up in schools and dispensaries. According to the warning, six to seven lakh cusecs of water may hit Sindh on August 3 near Guddu. Talking to The Express Tribune, Sindh Irrigation Secretary Shuja Ahmed Junejo said that the government has directed all the chief engineers and executive engineers to monitor both sides of the protective bunds of River Indus from Guddu to Kotri Barrages.
He said since it was big water flow therefore the chances of breach from anywhere could not be ruled out. “We had discharged the same quantity of water to the Arabian Sea without any loss in 1992, 1995. After 15 years we are going to witness such a high flood. I hope we can manage it. But people living in Katcha area should cooperate in order to evacuate their houses,” he said.
According to reports coming from different area the district government officials could not yet inform the people living on both sides of the River Indus about the flood warning. District Coordination Officer Shikarpur, Dr. Saeed Ahmed Mangnejo, however said that they have informed all people living in Lakhi, Khanpur and Garhi Yasin.
Chief Engineer Sukkur Barrage Mohammed Haroon Memon said they had given a 48-hour ultimatum on Thursday to people living over there to evacuate the places. “We are now going to send vehicles to take the people to relief camps,” he said. The floodwater in River Sindh is now passing through Kalabagh and Mianwali areas and would be inundating Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Laya and Mufarrgarh districts in a couple of days, according to a federal body that deals with floods. Met Office Director General Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry warned that the monsoon was still not over and next 10 days might be critical. “A new system is already moving…it will cause more rains next week,” Chaudhry said. (With additional input from Shahzad Baloch, Zia Khan, Roshan Mughal, Shabbir Mir and Hafeez Tunio)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2010.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ