satellite images published this Thursday by the European Space Agency (ESA) They confirm that more than a third of Pakistan’s territory is under water after the severe floods it has been suffering since mid-June. The European agency indicates that the monsoon rains have been ten times more intense than usual while much of Europe is on alert due to drought.
In the snapshots published this Tuesday by ESA you can see the magnitude of the floods, with the colors between blue and black showing where the land is submerged. The image on the left shows a wide view of the affected area and the image on the right zooms in on the area between Dera Murad Jamali and Larkana. The Indus River, which crosses the country from north to south, has overflowed its banks, creating a long lake tens of kilometers wide, as shown in the image.
Since mid-June, floods have claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people and more than 33 million, one in seven Pakistanis, have been affected by heavy rains, according to data from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). ), which also recorded damage to more than a million houses. The director of the NDMA, Akhtar Nawaz, warned on Tuesday that water levels in the country have been 186% higher than the 30-year average and more than 800,000 hectares are submerged under water.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has described the flooding as the worst in the country’s history and has said it will cost at least $10 billion to repair damaged infrastructure.
“Ground zero” of global warming
For his part, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of women, children and men have been displaced by the waters and are forced to spend days and nights in camps.
The constant rains have caused widespread devastation, with urban flooding, river overflow and landslides causing deaths, as well as endangering livestock and causing serious property damage, the minister said. The areas most affected by heavy flooding are mostly concentrated in the southwestern province of Balochistan and southern Sindh, with at least 72 districts having been “hit by misfortune,” he added.
“It is feared that the scale of the disaster will far exceed that of the 2010 mega-floods,” he said, referring to floods that killed more than 2,000 people across the country.
Bhutto noted that due to geographical location and the confluence of various factors, “Pakistan has become ground zero for the greatest existential threat of this century: global warming.”
“For us, this is no less than a national emergency,” he said.
Sherry Rehman, a Pakistani senator and federal minister for climate change, said on Sunday that a warming climate was causing glaciers in mountainous northern regions to melt faster than normal, compounding the impact of heavy rains. Pakistan has more glaciers – more than 7,000 – than anywhere else outside the polar regions.
“We are at ground zero on the front line of extreme weather events,” the senator said in an interview with DW News.
The UN launches an “urgent appeal”
“The United Nations is issuing an urgent appeal for 160 million dollars to support the response proposed by the Government of Pakistan,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced in a video message as part of the fund request event held in Islamabad and Geneva this Tuesday.
The funds raised will go to provide assistance, food, drinking water, sanitation, education, protection and the necessary support to 5.2 million people affected by the floods.
“Pakistan is awash in suffering,” Guterres added, noting that the Pakistani people are facing the “unrelenting impact of historic levels of rainfall and flooding.” “The scale of needs is increasing like the waters in the floods, and requires the collective and priority attention of the world,” warned the secretary general, who will travel to Pakistan next week on a “solidarity visit” and to see first-hand the areas most affected by the floods.
The country is suffering from the severe flooding at a time when it is facing a faltering economy, depleted foreign exchange reserves, a collapsing local currency and rising inflation, which topped 44% over the past week. .
The foreign minister said Sunday night that the resulting floods will worsen Pakistan’s already dire economic situation and that financial aid is needed.