Monsoon rains threaten flood disaster

Monday 12th Sep 2011 by theWeather Club

The recent flooding in southern Pakistan is threatening to spiral into another humanitarian disaster as the area prepares to be hit by more rain. Officials are now saying that more than 200 people have died and millions continue to be affected after two weeks of flooding in Pakistan's southern Sindh region. Pakistan's disaster management body told reporters that the situation is worsening every day as water levels continue to rise. The UN has begun relief work in the area but more rain has been forecast for the coming days.

Meanwhile, in India's eastern Orissa state more than one million people have been displaced and 16 killed as floods sweep through the province. About 2,600 villages have been submerged across 19 districts. The army and navy have been called in to help, as many villagers are still stranded and dependent on food drops from helicopters.

The cause of the problems is the heavy monsoon rains that have been battering South Asia for days, however southern Pakistan has suffered serious bad weather for a period stretching back several weeks. Almost one million houses in the area have been destroyed or damaged and floods have affected nearly 4.2m acres of land, according to the UN. The continuing rain is heaping misery on the hundreds of thousands of people living out in the open. Many remain stranded on high ground, some even surviving on rooftops as the flood waters rise around them.

The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, said up to 2.5 million children had been affected. One official said many families are still recovering from last year's devastating floods, which meant that they were already very vulnerable when these new floods stuck. It means that they are in urgent need of help before the situation worsens further. “The situation in Sindh is already serious and there will be more flooding and more problems because of these rains,” Arif Mehmood, a meteorology official, is quoted as saying. Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani made a televised weekend appeal for the international community to help with flood relief, and China immediately pledged £2.9m for urgent humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile Pakistan's disaster management authority said it was working to quantify the huge losses in cash crops such as sugar cane and cotton, and the potential effect on the local economy this could have.

In India officials in Orissa have said at least 61,000 people had been evacuated to safety and relief and rescue operations had begun. Several rivers, including the Mahanadi, are overflowing and flood waters have severed a number of key road links. Some areas had been cut off due to breaches in river banks and embankments and helicopters were the only way to bring food and water to stranded people. Orissa's Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that the authorities were taking all measures to bring aid to those affected.