Pakistan Floods A Natural Disaster on a Huge Scale

The scale of the Pakistan flood disaster isn’t yet entirely clear but it is know to have claimed at least 1500 lives and Aid agencies reckon over two and a half million people have been affected.

In the UK Oxfam immediately began their Pakistan Flood Appeal hoping to raise millions of pounds to begin to provide clean water, fresh food and shelter to the affected regions

But such is the nature of the North West of the country where the catastrophe has struck that its going to take some time for the whole picture to emerge.  We do know that villages have been swept away, roads and bridges destroyed and an army of people is on the move as best it can.

Aleem Maqbool reports from one of the worst affected districts and explains what it is like:

In the last two or three hours we’ve had torrential monsoon downfalls onto an area that is already badly damaged, large areas still submerged, trees uprooted, electricity pylons down and a lot of building destroyed.

Huge swathes of Northern Pakistan look like this and what the new rains have meant is that those crucial aid flights of helicopters – the only way to get to the areas have been suspended.

A local explains how the people there are feeling about the aid situation:

The storm broke on Thursday in full swing, my village was totally drowned. No help came from local police, local government, federal government and politicians. People went from this place to highest place on foot taking their children and anything they could manage.  All the houses are in water, no food, nothing is available. When the helicopters came and they throw food – the food goes in the water. No help up to now.

People now are going back, cleaning their houses but they can’t get food and they can’t get clean water.

The rains have started again and more storms are on the way so the water levels will rise again.

Some areas are lucky and have transport links that are open again but there are huge areas where the army admits it has not been able to reach. These are the areas that the aid agencies and emergency services are most worried about – people who haven’t been visited at all in the last three days – as well as not being able to assess the loss of life there they don’t know if the people have access to food and clean water.

The floods in Pakistan cover over a quarter of the country, three million people affected – a conservative figure – 1.5 million severely affected – isolated and stranded by the water that surrounds them.

Early pictures form the helicopter showed the sheer force of the initial torrents that washed away motorway bridges, swept away roads and destroyed transport and communication slinks – a great deal of infrastructure has been destroyed that will need to be replaced or repaired.

This really is a disaster on a huge scale. And the forecast is for more heavy rainfall.