‘They were left with nothing’: Record floods devastate Pakistan province | flood news

Islamabad, Pakistan – Naseebullah was having dinner with her four children last week when she heard a noise outside her home. Sensing danger, the instincts of a 60-year-old ex-soldier kicked in.

A recent retiree from the levy forces in Pakistan’s remote Baluchistan province, Naseebullah ran out of his small mud house in the Muslim town of Bagh, some 100 km (62 miles) from the provincial capital, Quetta, just to hear a loud rumble and the thunder of water. gushing towards him.

“It had been raining non-stop anyway and we couldn’t leave our house. But when I heard the sound of water running towards us, I ran inside the house and yelled at my family to stop everything and leave immediately,” she told Al Jazeera by phone.

While Naseebullah was able to save her family, some of her relatives were not so lucky.

“My brother lived next door and had a relative’s children also living with him. As soon as we managed to get out of the house, the flood came down and destroyed my house and my brother’s house, taking him and the people inside,” he said.

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A vegetable vendor waits for customers on a flooded street in Lahore. [File: K M Chaudary/AP]

About 200 km (124 miles) from the Muslim city of Bagh, Haji Abdul Razzaq, a resident of the Killa Abdullah district, shared a similar story.

“The women and children in my family are forced to live outdoors because I have lost my house and the flood water is still there,” Razzaq, 59, told Al Jazeera.

The two men and their families are among the tens of thousands of people currently at the mercy of an exceptional monsoon season, which has wreaked havoc across Pakistan.

Pakistan ranks eighth among the counties most vulnerable to climate shocks despite contributing less than one percent to global carbon emissions, according to the Climate Change Risk Index 2021.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) says that since the start of the monsoon season in mid-June this year, more than 650 people have died across the country and hundreds of thousands have been displaced, without a breath of nature on the horizon. .

Initial estimates from the NDMA say that more than 100 districts have been affected by the torrential rains.

Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest and most impoverished province, has been hit the hardest.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), more than 200 people have died in the province, 58 of them children, and more than 10,000 people have been displaced from their homes.

Baluchistan authorities say the floods have damaged more than 40,000 houses, of which 22,000 were destroyed. Nearly 700,000 acres (280,000 hectares) of crops were lost across the province, with officials estimating the total loss suffered by the flooding so far at $10 million.

Interactive_Balochistan_Floods_Aug19_REVISED 2 2022-01
(Al Jazeera)

But the devastation is not just limited to Baluchistan, as almost all of Pakistan is facing extraordinary amounts of rain this year. NDMA data through August 17 indicated that this year’s average rainfall was 267 mm, compared to the 30-year average of 119 mm, an increase of 124 percent.

Balochistan’s 30-year average was just 55mm and this year it increased dramatically by 289 per cent to 200mm of rainfall.

In neighboring Sindh province, the 30-year average was 107mm, but it touched 375mm this year. The province has reported more than 140 flood-related deaths, including at least 66 children, this year.

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A man walks along a flooded road after rain in Karachi. [File: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

As displaced people plead for help and share videos of their anguish on social media, the Baluchistan government and rescue authorities insist they are doing everything they can under the circumstances.

Meer Ziaullah Langau, adviser to the Prime Minister of Balochistan, said the provincial government is coordinating with local administrations and providing them with necessary assistance.

“It is inevitable, considering the kind of rains we get, that there must be people who have not been given help, but our teams everywhere have performed diligently and we have not received any complaints,” he told Al Jazeera.

Another PDMA official, who requested anonymity, said this year’s rains were unexpected. He claimed that the government took measures such as informing people and preparing for relief efforts.

Contrary to MET department predictions, the magnitude of the rainfall this year was completely unexpected. The main reason for the loss of life was due to the invasions built on the causeways that were washed away by the rains,” he told Al Jazeera.

Baluchistan has also contacted the federal government, requesting a special $27 million package for repair and rehabilitation in the province.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also tweeted Wednesday that the United States will provide $100,000 in immediate aid to Pakistan in addition to a $1 million package to “build resilience against natural disasters.”

But for the hundreds of thousands left out in the open, help won’t come soon enough. About 500 km (310 miles) south of Quetta, Lasbela is one of the worst affected regions in Balochistan.

Qari Shahnawaz, 55, whose house was partially damaged by the floods, said on Friday that it has been raining continuously for the past three days.

“The whole city is drowning and people have nowhere to go. If the government had prepared for this, we wouldn’t have these problems,” he told Al Jazeera by phone.

“Even right now, I’m standing waist deep in water.”

Others also questioned the government’s inaction. Retired teacher Haji Raheem, 74, told Al Jazeera that he lost his home and more than 25 acres of farmland in the floods.

“The government just talks big about helping people, but I don’t see them anywhere here. Only charity workers and some political parties help on their own,” he said.

Razzaq, from the Killah Abdullah district, says his village, which consists of 25 mud houses, was destroyed by the floods.

“The authorities provided us with some tents and food parcels, but we don’t have a dry place to pitch the tents,” he told Al Jazeera. “For most of the people, our only livelihood in this area is farming, but the flood has washed away our watermelon and apple crops.”

Naseebullah, from Muslim Bagh, claims that the government did not give any advance warning of flooding in his area, adding that the water took much more than his house.

“The house was built by our ancestors. They had been living here for over 100 years. It was not built on any illegal watercourse and we have never faced that in the past. But now we are left with nothing.”

Additional reporting by Saadullah Akhter from Quetta, Baluchistan

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