Pakistan looks ‘like a sea’ after floods, PM Shehbaz says, as 18 more die

With more rain expected in the coming month, the situation could worsen further, a top official of the UNHCR warned. PHOTO: AFP

SEHWAN, Pakistan - Parts of Pakistan seemed “like a sea”, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday, after visiting some of the flood-hit areas that cover as much as a third of the South Asian nation, where 18 more deaths took the toll from days of rain to 1,343.

As many as 33 million of a population of 220 million have been affected in the disaster blamed on climate change, which officials estimate to have caused losses running into a minimum of US$10 billion (S$14 billion).

“You wouldn’t believe the scale of destruction there,” Mr Sharif told media after a visit to the southern province of Sindh. “It is water everywhere as far as you could see. It is just like a sea.”

The government, which has boosted cash handouts for flood victims to 70 billion Pakistani rupees (S$441 million), will buy 200,000 tents to house displaced families, he added.

Receding waters threaten a new challenge in the form of water-born infectious diseases, Mr Sharif said.

“We will need trillions of rupees to cope with this calamity.”

The United Nations has called for US$160 million in aid to help the flood victims.

Many of the affected are from the southern province of Sindh, where Pakistan's largest freshwater lake is dangerously close to bursting its banks, even after having been breached in an operation that displaced 100,000 people.

National disaster officials said eight children were among the dead in the last 24 hours.

The floods were brought by record monsoon rains and glacier melt in Pakistan's northern mountains.

With more rain expected in the coming month, the situation could worsen further, a top official of the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned.

Already, the World Health Organisation has said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas.

The raging waters have swept away 1.6 million houses, 5,735km of roads, railways, 246 bridges, telecommunication systems, 750,000 livestock, and swamped more than two million acres of farmland. Reuters

Pakistan has received nearly 190 per cent more rain than the 30-year average in July and August, totalling 391mm, with Sindh getting 466 per cent more rain than the average. REUTERS

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