ISLAMABAD/KARACHI The top man of national rescue and relief agency Monday presented a horrifying estimate of the scale of devastation wrought by Monsoon this year, admitting that it was not less extensive in destruction than the last years endemic floods.
As many as 4,639,989 persons have been affected by recent floods so far which have hit 5,144,699 acres area along left bank of the river Indus, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Dr Zafar Qadir told the media.
This estimation was more than double the assessment presented by an official of the provincial disaster management authority (PDMA) of Sindh earlier the same day in Islamabad. Sindh PDMA Director Operations Sajjad Hayder Shah told the media persons that 2.2 million people have been affected and 300,000 displaced.
Given the enormity of devastation, there were reports that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will make a national appeal and launch a campaign for the help of flood victims in a day or two.
Giving further details of the damage, NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Qadir said that 133 persons, including 66 men and 37 women, have died in floods and rain-related incidents while 390 others, including 108 men and 206 women were injured. The rains and floods fully damaged 271,677 houses, and another 699,468 houses have suffered partial damage, he added.
The agriculture sector has suffered a loss of 59,165 cattle head, while crops on 1,700,000 acres have been destroyed are affected by the rains. These mostly include cash crops like cotton, banana, dates, chili and sugarcane.
Dr Zafar said that 20 Sindh districts, namely Badin, TM Khan, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Thatta, Tando Allayar, Naushero Feroze, Khairpur, Shaheed Benazirabad, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Sanghar, Dadu, Shahdad Kot, Jamshoro, Hyderabad, Ghotki, Larkana and Matiari, have been affected by the floods.
Giving details of relief efforts, the NDMA chief said that some 1,684 relief camps have been established in which 131,223 persons had taken shelter. A comparison of this figure with the above sated figures clearly shows that a help is yet to reach a great majority of affectees and most of them are understandably spending their days in open skies. Being shelterless and without food and safe drinking water, their lives are in grave danger not only from hunger but from epidemics too.
NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar said that 43,348 tents were despatched to the flood-hit areas with distribution of 48,000 ration packs, 40,000 blankets, 30,000 mosquito nets, 10,000 mosquito repellent oil packs, 13 water purification units, one million sanitation tablets, 10 boats, 8.5 million water purification tablets, 30,000 jerry cans and 35,000 plastic sheets among the affected people. Around Rs 1.5 billion have been spent for relief and rescue activities so far, he added.
He said that the first spell of rains hit the affected areas on August 11 and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillnai visited the areas on August 15 to check the relief measures. The prime minister directed the federal government to take appropriate steps for supporting the Sindh government in relief efforts, he added.
He said that two technical teams would be sent to the affected areas after the current spell of rains for a clearer assessment of the losses. One technical team would estimate infrastructure losses while the other would conduct a survey for assessment of funds required for relief activities in affected areas, Dr Zafar said.
Meanwhile, overnight rain worsened situation in Badin where another five villages have submerged, while 15 more villages have been inundated in Khairpur district. In Khairpur district, a total of 6,000 villages have been inundated and according to DCO Abbas Baloch, over one million acres of farm land has been destroyed. The army has been summoned to Faiz Ganj while communication of several areas has been cut off.
Over fifty villages have been inundated in Thatta while in Ghotki the most affected area is Obaro where there is several feet of water. Roads leading to Dadu are closed thus the price of food items have skyrocketed. Meanwhile the water level at a dam in Jamshoro has increased drastically and due to two doors of the dam breaking, a railway track along with over 200 villages have been inundated.
According to Meteorological Department isolated rain and thundershower was likely in upper parts of the country as strong monsoon currents are continuously penetrating in most parts of the country.
Heavy rainfall may cause urban and flash flooding in Sindh, eastern Balochistan and southern Punjab. Scattered rain and thundershower lashed Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan whereas isolated rains occurred in upper Punjab and north-eastern Balochistan during the last two days.
Rainfall recorded during last 24 hours in Nawabshah was 70 mm, Mirpur Khas 50 mm, Quetta 33 mm, Badin 19 mm, Choor 12 mm, Lahore 11 mm, Faisalabad 06 mm, Parachinar and Hunza 05 mm, Zhob and Padidan 04 mm.
More than a year after that calamity, over 800,000 families remain without permanent shelter, according to aid group Oxfam, and more than a million people need food assistance.
There has been heavy damage to the red chilli crop, as well as cotton and other crops in the area, said another official. Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistans fragile economy, although officials say the recent crop damage is unlikely to have a major impact on overall output.