More than one-third of Pakistan underwater as it battles worst flood in history
Authorities fear an impending food crisis as millions of acres of crops are inundated, even as hundreds of thousands of livestock have been wiped out. There are also concerns over an uptick in infectious diseases, leaving millions vulnerable to illness.
Over one-third of Pakistan is underwater, latest satellite images from the European Space Agency (ESA) have revealed, showing the extent of damage caused by the monsoon-induced floods.
According to the images, an overflowing Indus river has created a long lake, tens of kilometres wide.
Thousands of houses, agricultural lands, and infrastructure have been washed away in one of the worst floods in the country’s history, which has claimed more than 1,200 lives and affected over 33 million people in Pakistan, with nearly 400 of them children, Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said.
Authorities fear an impending food crisis as millions of acres of crops are inundated, while hundreds of thousands of livestock have been wiped out. There are also concerns over an uptick in infectious diseases, leaving millions vulnerable to illness caused by what the United Nations has called a "monsoon on steroids."
Action Against Hunger charity has claimed that 27 million people in Pakistan did not have access to enough food prior to the floods, and now the risk of widespread hunger is even more imminent, reported CNN.
"Our priority right now is to help save and protect lives as waters continue to rise. The scale of these floods has caused a shocking level of destruction -- crops have been swept away and livestock killed across huge swathes of the country, which means hunger will follow," Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee, a United Kingdom-based aid coalition, was quoted as saying.
The World Health Organisation has also classified Pakistan's floods as an emergency of "the highest level," warning of a rapid spread of disease due to the lack of access to medical assistance.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned of new outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases, skin infections, respiratory tract infections, malaria and dengue in the aftermath of the floods.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the country’s monsoon season usually brings heavy downpours, but this year's has been the wettest since 1961. The torrential monsoon rainfall has been recorded 10 times heavier than usual.
On August 30, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the floods were "the worst in the country's history" and the calamity had caused more than $10 billion estimated in damages to infrastructure, homes and farms.
(With inputs from agencies)
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