SUKKUR, PAKISTAN (AFP) – Aid efforts ramped up across flooded Pakistan on Tuesday (Aug 30) to help tens of millions of people affected by relentless monsoon rains that have submerged a third of the country and claimed more than 1,100 lives.
The rains that began in June have unleashed the worst flooding in more than a decade, washing away swathes of vital crops and damaging or destroying more than a million homes.
Authorities and charities are struggling to accelerate aid delivery to more than 33 million people affected, a challenging task in areas cut off because roads and bridges have been washed away.
In the south and west, dry land is limited, with displaced people crammed on to elevated highways and railroad tracks to escape the flooded plains.
“We don’t even have space to cook food. We need help,” Rimsha Bibi, a schoolgirl in Dera Ghazi Khan in central Pakistan, told AFP.
Pakistan receives heavy – often destructive – rains during its annual monsoon season, which are crucial for agriculture and water supplies.
But such intense downpours have not been seen for three decades.
Pakistani officials have blamed climate change, which is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather around the world.
“To see the devastation on the ground is really mind-boggling,” Pakistan’s climate change minister Sherry Rehman told AFP.
“When we send in water pumps, they say ‘Where do we pump the water?’ It’s all one big ocean, there’s no dry land to pump the water out.”
She said “literally a third” of the country was under water, comparing scenes from the disaster to a dystopian movie.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan needed more than US$10 billion (S$14 billion) to repair and rebuild damaged infrastructure.
“Massive damage has been caused… especially in the areas of telecommunications, roads, agriculture and livelihoods,” he told AFP Tuesday.
The Indus River, which runs along the length of the South Asian nation, is threatening to burst its banks as torrents of water rush downstream from its tributaries in the north.