what we know about the devastating floods that killed at least 1,136 people in three months

Water as far as the eye could see, a terrifying number that continued to grow and millions of lives were turned upside down. Pakistan has been hit for three months by torrential rains that have ruined everything. More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, have been affected and a third of this South Asian country is under water. Local Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman spoke about a “crisis of unimaginable proportions”. Franceinfo investigates this ongoing disaster.

>> IN THE PICTURES. In Pakistan, monsoon rains have killed more than 1,000 people and devastated entire regions

A historic monsoon has hit the country for three months

Since June, the country has been affected by very heavy monsoon rains, “not since thirty years”, according to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The monsoon, which usually lasts from June to September, is crucial for irrigating plantations and replenishing water resources in the Indian subcontinent, but its consequences have proved dramatic this year. The northern and southern regions are particularly affected. In addition, the Indus, the country’s main river, is flooding and threatening to burst its banks.

People walk through flooded streets on August 27, 2022 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of northern Pakistan.  (HUSSAIN ALI / AFP)

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman spoke about a “crisis of unimaginable proportions”, and authorities attribute the intensity of this bad weather to climate change. The country was also affected in April and May by a severe heat wave (51 degrees recorded in Jacobabad, central Pakistan) and drought, which negatively affects soil permeability, promoting rainwater runoff.

In their latest report, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that global warming increases the risk of flooding in monsoon regions.

The death toll has risen to at least 1,136

At least 1,136 people, including 75 in the last 24 hours, have died since the monsoon began in June, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, have also been affected by the monsoons which have caused widespread flooding in the country: a third of Pakistan is under water, according to the Minister of Climate Change.

To illustrate the severity of this disaster, the Minister of Climate Change announced that this bad season is worse than 2010, the year in which 2,000 people died and almost a fifth of Pakistan was submerged.

We are used to monsoons every year, but we have never seen anything like this. It has been raining continuously for eight weeks,” explained in an interview with AFP Sherry Rehman, who mentioned a “dystopian film”.

In the face of great material damage, a state of emergency was declared.

Beyond the human drama, these monsoons completely disrupt the local landscape. “It’s all one big sea, there’s no dry land from the water pump,” lamented the Minister of Climate Change. Nearly a million homes were destroyed or severely damaged, according to the government.

An aerial view of Balochistan region in southwestern Pakistan on August 29, 2022. (IFAD HUSSAIN / AFP)

The NDMA said more than 80,000 hectares of farmland were destroyed and more than 3,400 kilometers of roads and 157 bridges were washed away, hampering relief operations. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), more than three million people have been forced from their homes, while at least 710,000 farm animals have died. The government declared a state of emergency.

An appeal for help from the international community has been launched

With the help of the United Nations, the government of Pakistan launched, on Tuesday August 30, an urgent appeal for donations of 160 million euros to help the victims and the displaced. This financial windfall should make it possible to fund an emergency plan for the next six months.

A food distribution for disaster victims, on August 29, 2022 in Dera Ghazi Khan, in central Pakistan.  (SHAHID SAEED MIRZA / AFP)

The Minister of Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, declared that his country will need more than ten billion euros to repair the damage after the flood. On Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron announced that “France [était] willing to help” in the disaster-stricken country.

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