A third of Pakistan is now underwater amid an unprecedented amount of rainfall since June, Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, said Monday.
That would mean an area about the size of Colorado is underwater. Pakistan, home to about 220 million, has a land mass of 307,000 square miles.
Flooding caused by eight consecutive weeks of rainfall has killed more than 1,100 people. “This is a huge humanitarian disaster, and I would call it quite apocalyptic,” Rehman said in an interview with Britain’s Sky News.
In one town in the southeastern province of Sindh, about 67 inches fell in one day, Rehman said on Twitter. “Unheard of, anywhere,” she said.
The growing number of extreme weather events around the world is due to the planet’s rising temperatures, weather experts say. Higher temperatures mean more water in the air: For every degree of warmer temperature, the air can hold about 4 percent more water.
Last week, flash floods struck the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Last month, a record-breaking deluge swept through St. Louis before floods in eastern Kentucky killed dozens of people. Outside the United States, a state in Australia observed about 28 inches of rain last month, while record rainfall in South Korea tore up parts of the capital, Seoul, this month. Last year, massive floods killed more than 150 people in Europe. [Continue reading…]
The country’s south has been most affected, notably the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. Though some degree of flooding is common in Pakistan during monsoon season, the intensity of the rainfall this month was 780 percent above average, according to Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman.
“More than 100 bridges and some 3,000 km of roads have been damaged or destroyed, nearly 800,000 farm animals have perished, and two million acres of crops and orchards have been hit,” the United Nations’ World Food Program noted. The scale of flooding has impeded access for emergency groups seeking to get aid to the neediest.
This calamity alone would have been disastrous. But Pakistan this year has also endured economic difficulties and a lethal heat wave that, as Vox’s Umair Irfan reported, strained public infrastructure and social services. All these crises have been exacerbated by the country’s political situation, with the government targeting the recent ousted prime minister, Imran Khan, and by the global economic plight.
“Pakistan has faced a series of crises this year: economic, political, now, a natural disaster,” Madiha Afzal, a foreign policy researcher at the Brookings Institution, told me. “Running underneath all of this has been the political crisis.” [Continue reading…]