International

Biggest ever disaster: Pakistan

What was till today described as the worst floods in Pakistan's history has now been termed as the biggest disaster ever to strike the country. Briefing mediapersons on Friday even as a fresh spell of monsoons spelt further misery, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chairman Nadeem Ahmed said this was the biggest disaster in Pakistan's history with 1,32,000 sq km affected in just two provinces.

Comparing the floods to the 2005 earthquake which killed thousands, Lt. Gen. (retired) Ahmed said as against 30,000 sq km affected then, 1,32,000 sq km had been affected in just the two provinces of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) and Punjab. While these two provinces are the worst affected, the floods have left a trail of destruction in Balochistan and Sindh which is the latest worry with the Indus overflowing.

As a fresh spell of rainfall lashed the country on Friday, relief work in many a place was stalled because helicopters were grounded.

While the United Nations “situation report'' pegged the flood-affected figures at over four million, the NDMA chairman said 12 million people had been affected in Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa and Punjab alone and over two lakh houses damaged/destroyed across the country.

The entry of the “flood wave'' into Sindh put 11 districts of the province at risk of flooding and an estimated five lakh people were relocated to safer places. UNESCO has expressed concern over the fate of the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilisation in Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh.

And, the worst does not seem to be over as the Meteorological Department predicted torrential rains. With no early respite from the floods in sight, Prime Minister Yusuf Syed Raza Gilani addressed the nation to seek the support of all Pakistanis living within the country and overseas to help deal with this natural calamity.

He also announced the decision of the Cabinet to donate a month's salary to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and listed salary cuts to be undertaken by the armed forces and government personnel. He urged the corporate sector in particular to chip in.

Meanwhile, international aid has been coming in but government sources claimed that this was nothing in comparison to what was received after the earthquake and for the relief and rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons last year.

In fact, the United Nations in its last ‘situation report' said “overall, the humanitarian needs still outweigh the response''.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:28:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Biggest-ever-disaster-Pakistan/article16122095.ece

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