Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday said 20 million people had been affected by the country’s worst ever floods as the nation cut back most of the functions organised to mark the Independence Day to concentrate on relief.
Expressing a resolve that Pakistani would cope with its worst calamity, Mr. Gilani, addressing the nation to mark the day said “the floods have affected 20 million people, destroyed standing crops and food storages worth billions of dollars causing a colossal loss to the national economy.”
Appealing to the world community to extend a helping hand, Mr. Gilani in his televised speech said, “this is the worst ever calamity for us and the entire nation will show courage to face it.”
As the United Nations confirmed cases of outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera due to floods, Mr. Gilani said “outbreak of epidemics in the flood hit area was a serious threat, which can compound further the already grave situation.”
He said the worst ever floods in country’s history have killed 1,384 people, injured 1,630 injured and according to initial estimates damaged over 0.7 million homes.
However, the government was able to rescue over 4 lakh marooned people.
He said, the Pakistan’s economy had already suffered colossal losses due to relentless war against terrorism.
Mr. Gilani said the scale of destruction by the floods was much bigger than the tsunami.
“I appeal to the world community to extend a helping hand,” Mr. Gilani said.
He said the floods have played havoc in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh, Pakistan-occupied— Kashmir, Gilgit—Baltistan and other parts of the country and the political leadership and all government departments were busy to mitigate sufferings of the flood affected people.
He said, 57 helicopters and 912 boats were evacuating the stranded people to safer places and the government has so far evacuated 398,390 people to safer places.
He said, the rains followed by flood initially impacted Gilgit—Baltistan, Khyber Pukhtukhwa and Balochistan and were the focus of relief work but it had to be stretched across the country as floods entered Punjab and Sindh.
He said the government cancelled all Independence Day celebrations to express solidarity with the flood—victims.
All Ramzan iftar dinners and Eid celebrations have also been cancelled so that the money could be spent for the flood-victims, he added.