courtesy Express Tribune
The government ordered 300,000 people to evacuate Thatta city after waters breached its defences as the United Nations (UN) warned on Friday the country’s worst humanitarian crisis was deepening.
“We ordered people of Thatta city on Thursday night to move to safer places after floods breached an embankment at Faqir Jogoth village,” administration official Manzoor Sheikh said.
About 70 per cent of Thatta’s approximately 300,000 people had so far moved to safer areas and the deluge is bearing down on the city, he said. “We hope that (army) engineers will be able to repair the breach or otherwise floodwaters will inundate Thatta city,” Sheikh said.
He said the surrounding towns of Sujawal, Mirpur Bathoro and Darro, which had a combined population of 400,000, had already been evacuated.
People were fleeing Thatta, where streets were deserted and shops shut, to nearby Makli and Karachi with their livestock and luggage as engineers tried to repair the six-metre wide breach.
In Makli, devastated people were seen sitting out in the open with their children and cattle. The orders to evacuate Thatta threw into chaos plans by hundreds of people already on the move, fleeing flooded villages and hoping that the district’s biggest city could provide relief and shelter.
The government has confirmed 1,600 people dead and 2,366 injured, but officials warn that millions are at risk from disease and food shortages.
A spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Islamabad estimated that one million people were displaced in the last 48 hours in the southern province of Sindh alone.
The United Nations has warned that 800,000 people in desperate need of aid had been cut off by the deluge across the country and appealed for more helicopters to deliver supplies to those people reachable only by air.
Officials said that around 4.5 million people urgently need shelter and there are serious concerns about rising malnutrition among children with up to 20 per cent of them in affected areas suffering from diarrhoea diseases.
In Belo Banglo, the only thing villagers can manage is to stay one step ahead of the rising waters.
Many areas near Kanganpur have been inundated after rise in water levels in the River Sutlej at Islam Headworks. Currently, the water flow is 22,000 cusecs while 4,000 cusecs will enter the headworks in the next 24 hours.
The administration has warned villagers living on the river beds to leave the area. But they are not paying heed to their warnings.
Flood water from the River Sutlej is expected to cause a large scale devastation because the protective dykes of the river have not been repaired since 1988.
In Muridke, flood water has breached Bher Drain, inundating farmland area.
Southern Punjab is experiencing overflowing streams of rain water after heavy downpours hit the mountains of Suleman Range.
The road link between Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has been suspended from Khar Buzdar area. There is a severe shortage of food in the area and over 50,000 people have appealed for more aid and food.
More than a 100,000 people displaced from the floods are unable to return home, as they are facing financial difficulties. Flood affected people living in Muzaffargarh however are slowly returning to their lands.
Crime rate has also seen a surge in the district after the floods have caused devastation across the country.