Floodwaters ravaged hundreds of villages in Pakistan’s heartland today, killing dozens more people and destroying thousands of homes.
Aid workers warned that bloated rivers will soon surge into the country’s south, and said Pakistanis should prepare for more evacuations.
This year’s monsoon season has prompted the worst flooding in Pakistan in living memory, and has already killed more than 1,500 people. The UN scrambled to provide food and other assistance to 3.2 million people.
In Punjab province, floodwaters deluged numerous villages and began pouring into major urban centres such as the city of Kot Addu. The army used boats and helicopters to move stranded villagers in the area to higher ground.
Water levels were so high in large tracts of Kot Addu and the nearby area of Layyah in the south of the province, that only treetops and uppermost floors of some buildings were visible.
Military spokesman Major General Nadir Zeb said at least 30,000 people had been rescued from flood-hit zones in Kot Addu and nearby areas over the previous 72 hours. He warned that more flooding is expected as weather forecasts predicted more rain in the next few days.
“People must co-operate with us, and they must leave those areas where floods are going to hit,” he said.
At least 47 people were killed in Punjab, Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said. Nearly 1,000 villages were affected and 15,000 houses destroyed in the province, UN officials said.
The rush of muddy water over river banks in Punjab threatened to destroy vast stretches of crops that make the province Pakistan’s breadbasket. Numerous crops have also been lost in the north west, the hardest hit region.
The loss of farm produce is one reason the UN has warned of serious food shortages, and the World Food Programme has estimated that 1.8 million people will need to be fed over the next month.
Rescue workers have struggled to deliver aid because of washed-out bridges and roads and downed communication lines.