Pakistan reopens key highway to speed aid to flood victims

The crisis affected over 33 million people and displaced over half a million people who are still living in tents and make-shift homes.

September 15, 2022 05:00 pm | Updated September 16, 2022 01:27 am IST - Islamabad

Buffaloes pass in front of a gas station amid flood water on the Indus highway, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Sehwan, Pakistan September 13, 2022.

Buffaloes pass in front of a gas station amid flood water on the Indus highway, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Sehwan, Pakistan September 13, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Pakistani engineers and troops cleared a key highway Thursday that will enable aid workers to speed supplies to survivors of devastating floods that have left thousands homeless and killed 1,486 people.

Traffic between the flood-hit city of Quetta and southern Sindh province remained suspended for weeks after floods damaged the key highway. The blockage had forced the military to deliver aid to victims by helicopters and boats.

As they reopened the route, engineers in flood-hit Baluchistan provinces also restored the power supply for millions, according to a government statement. And the disaster's deady toll became more clear. On Thursday, the United Nations' children agency said 528 children were among those killed in the floods.

The National Flood Response and Coordination Centre said the worst-ever deluge destroyed 390 bridges and washed away over 12,000 kilometers of roads across the country. The inundation of roads affected the government's response to floods, and people complained they were still waiting for the government's help.

The crisis affected over 33 million people and displaced over half a million people who are still living in tents and make-shift homes. The water has destroyed 70% of wheat, cotton and other crops in Pakistan. At one point, a third of the country's territory was submerged.

Initially, Pakistan estimated that the floods caused $10 billion in damages, but now multiple economists say the cost is more like $30 billion in damages. That's five times more than what Pakistan's government will get under the 2019 bailout signed with the International Monetary Fund.

So far, 100 flights from different countries and international aid agencies have delivered the much-needed supplies to Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday. The U.N. weeks ago urged the international community to generously help Pakistan in relief, rescue and rehabilitation work.

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