February 26, 2024

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Pakistan’s hope as the lake fills: Flood villages to save a city

Pakistan's hope as the lake fills: Flood villages to save a city

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistani engineers cut a bridge to one of the country’s largest lakes on Sunday to release surging waters in hopes of saving a city and town close to flooding as officials predicted more monsoon rains are already on the way to the country. The devastated south.

While officials hope that cutting off both sides of Lake Manshar will protect about half a million people living in Sehwan city and Bhan Saeedabad town, villages of 150,000 are in the way of diverted water. The hometown of the Sindh provincial chief minister was among the affected villages whose residents were warned to vacate ahead of schedule, according to the provincial information minister.

More than 1,300 people have died and millions have lost their homes in floods caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan this year, which many experts have blamed on climate change. In response to the unfolding disaster, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world last week to stop “sleepwalking” during the crisis. He plans to visit the flood-affected areas on September 9.

Several countries have moved supplies, but the Pakistani government has asked for more help, facing the enormous task of feeding and sheltering those affected, as well as protecting them from waterborne diseases.

While the floods hit most parts of the country, Sindh province was hardest hit.

With meteorologists expecting more rain in the coming days, including around Manchar Lake in Sindh, and its already high level, authorities have ordered water to be released from it. Sharjeel Enam Maimon, the provincial information minister, said the Chief Minister of Sindh province, Murad Ali Shah, made the call even though his village might be flooded. Maimon said the government helped residents of villages along the waterway evacuate early.

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The hope was that the water, once it came out, would flow into the nearby Indus River, but the lake level continued to rise even after the cut was made, according to Fariduddin Mustafa, who is in charge of the Jamshoro district, where the affected villages are. The authorities also warned residents of the neighboring Dadu district of the possibility of more floods in the coming days.

While the release valve was set up in one area, Army engineers worked elsewhere to boost the banks of Manchar Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in Pakistan and one of the largest in Asia.

In its latest report, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority put the death toll since mid-June – when the monsoon started weeks earlier than usual – at 1,314, with more deaths reported in flood-affected areas of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. . The report said 458 children were among the dead.

The authority said rescue operations continued on Sunday as troops and volunteers used helicopters and boats to get stranded people out of flooded areas to relief camps. Tens of thousands of people already live in such camps, and thousands more have taken refuge on the roadsides of the highlands.

Many people are suffering from scabies, gastrointestinal infections and fever, said Hira Ikram, a doctor at a camp set up by the British Muslim Mission to the charity Score.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who visits flood-affected areas and relief camps daily, called for more international assistance Sunday.

“With more than 400 (children) dead, they make up a third of the total death toll. Now they are more vulnerable to contracting water-borne diseases, and UNICEF and other global agencies need to help.”

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In fact, UNICEF delivered tons of medicines, medical supplies, water purification tablets and nutritional supplements to Pakistan on Sunday.

The Bruising Foundation, a social welfare organization, said its volunteers used the boats to provide ready-to-eat meals and other aid to residents as well as animal feed on a small island in the Indus River. The group also distributed food and food items needed by those living on the roadside.

In the northwest, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial disaster management authority has warned of more rain, floods and landslides possible in the coming week in Malakand and Hazara districts. Authority spokesman Timur Khan urged residents on Sunday not to go to any of the areas that have already been flooded in recent weeks.

According to preliminary government estimates, the destruction caused $10 billion in losses, but Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday that “the scale of the destruction is enormous and requires a massive humanitarian response for 33 million people.”


Associated Press reporters Muhammad Farooq in Sukkur, Pakistan; Asim Tanfir in Multan, Pakistan, and Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.