Pakistan province declares flood calamity

Thursday 08th Sep 2011 by theWeather Club

The Pakistani province of Sindh has declared five flood-hit districts to be "calamity areas", a designation which flags them as being short of food, housing and medical supplies. Officials say that at least five million people have been affected by floods across the country, with thousands forced to vacate their homes. Thousands of rice, cotton and sugar cane crops have been destroyed, and heavy rainfall is continuing.

The provincial government says that the district of Nawabshah - home of Pakistan President Zardari - and the districts of Badin, Tandoallahyar, Sakrand and Ghotki have been especially badly hit. Hafeez Chachar a BBC reporter based in the country visited Sakrand and Ghotki and reported the situation in these areas is increasingly desperate, with displaced people searching for somewhere to camp on higher ground and shortages of food and medical supplies becoming ever more apparent.

While the flooding so far has only seriously affected five out of 22 districts in Sindh, for those caught up in the flooding the situation is said to be ominously similar to the floods of 2010, which destroyed more than 1.5 million homes across Pakistan and cost an estimated £6.2bn in direct and indirect losses.

National Disaster Management Authority head Zafar Qadir spoke on the situation saying that: "Floods triggered by heavy rains have killed 132 people and affected four to five million people." He said that most of those killed died as a result of falling roofs, drowning and the spread of water-borne diseases. "The magnitude of the calamity is worse than our expectations," Dr Qadir said. "A total of 690,000 houses were damaged, in which 250,000 were completely destroyed."

Dr Qadir went on to say that the relief efforts were facing increased difficulties with each passing day as the food and disease situation continued to deteriorate. As with the disastrous floods of 2010 the ability of the region to bounce back once the waters recedes has been badly hit because as well as the crop damage an estimated 100,000 cattle have so far perished.