Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Deadly Monsoon in Pakistan

During the past few years, there have been hardly any monsoon rains in Pakistan. And each year despite praying for rains, there were no traditional monsoon downpours, which many a times created drought like conditions. Farmers who lands that relied on rain water alone, specially in the mountainous areas, looked towards the sky for rain bearing clouds, but their longing gazes returned with disappointment. But this year it was different.

The rains came to compensate for all the previous years once for all. A westerly weather system moving in from Iran and Afghanistan, combined with heavy monsoon rain, caused the worst floods on record in Pakistan in the past week. There were very heavy downpours this time across the country. It started with the province of Balochistan, where rains, that came with the Cyclone Yemyin (03B), swelled the water courses with very fast currents, which swept away roads, mud houses and made countless homeless. Then the rains moved upwards in the north and came so heavily that all previous records were broken. The rivers overflew and water gushed in from everywhere. Bloated rivers have washed away villages and triggered devastating landslides throughout the northwest of the country. In Swat and adjoining areas, the water with all its ferocity entered the city and swept away houses and whatever came its way. And it killed countless people as well.

The rain water now continues to travel downstream with much more rolling speed. Villages after villages have been swept away and farmlands washed away. As a rough estimates, some 3 million people have been affected and over 1500 perished in the muddy waters. A large number of bridges have also been damaged and destroyed. This has made the relief operations much more difficult. Besides initial damage in Balochistan, the Northern province of Khyber Pakhtoonkwa has been badly affected. And as the water flows downwards, more destruction is caused in Punjab followed by the Sind province where the accumulative effect of flood water is causing much more damage. As of now, about 1 million cusecs of flood water is flowing downstream towards Taunsa Barrage.

There is a danger of spread of large scale diseases due to dead animals lying everywhere, and in some case the dead remains of humans.

Pakistan Army has taken control of the affected areas as the civil government has totally failed to take control. The army helicopters are evacuating the stranded and marooned, but a large number is still trapped on rooftops. Boats from Pakistan Navy have been air transported and sent to augment army resources. But the helicopter relief operations come to halt many times due to inclement weather.

While people suffer and long for help and early rehabilitation, it is heartening to see people of Pakistan and the world community rising to the occasion and donating whatever they can. UNHCR emergency response teams are distributing tents, relief supplies, and humanitarian assistance to the displaced in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. At this hour of distress, much more needs to be done to help the otherwise poor people of Pakistan.

Photo Courtesy: AP


Asghar Javed said...

This image speak volumes.