Villagers near Pakistan’s largest lake flee homes as 12 more die in floods By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Children stand as their family takes refuge along a damaged road amid flood, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Bajara village, at the banks of Manchar lake, in Sehwan, Pakistan September 6, 2022. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Fil

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By Syed Raza Hassan and Jibran Ahmad

BHAN SYEDABAD/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) -Villagers near Pakistan’s largest freshwater lake fled their homes on Thursday due to rising flood waters, while officials said 12 more deaths took the toll to 1,355.

Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes in a disaster blamed on climate change and estimated to have caused losses of about $10 billion, disrupting the lives of nearly 33 million of a population of 220 million.

In the southern province of Sindh, one of the worst-hit regions, people worked to strengthen an existing dyke as floodwaters threatened the town of Bhan Syedabad.

Traffic choked the narrow road out of the town as residents fled to nearby villages after evacuating their houses.

“Helicopters are available to rescue the rich, but I had to hire a boat for 2,000 rupees to rescue my family,” 25-year-old Abdul Fahim, whose nearby home flooded overnight, told Reuters, referring to a sum equivalent to $9.

A short distance away, Pakistan’s largest freshwater lake of Manchar is dangerously close to bursting its banks, as high water levels persist despite breaches by authorities to stave off further floods in an effort that displaced 100,000 people.

National disaster authorities said 12 deaths in the last 24 hours carried the toll to 1,355. Seven were children, who make up 481 of the dead.

The floods were brought by record monsoon rains and glacier melt in northern mountains. In July and August, Pakistan got 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average, while Sindh got 466% more than the average.

The World Health Organization has said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas.

People in many parts of the country are still struggling with basic necessities weeks after the crisis began.

In the north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, locals said conditions were poor, with government aid sporadic.

“The water wells are filled with floodwaters and are no longer drinkable,” said 62-year-old Moeenullah Khan, from Sar-e-Daryab, a flood affected town.

“The water standing in the streets and fields is allowing mosquitoes to breed, and almost every second person is suffering from dengue fever, throat, eye and skin infections or diarrhoea.”

Dr Nek Dad Afridi, a top local health official, said the provincial government was fully aware of the health issues of the people in flood-affected areas, and is working with their partners to provide the best available services to them.

The United Nations has called for $160 million in aid, and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will tour affected areas and meet senior officials during a two-day visit set to begin on Friday.

“The secretary-general’s visit will further raise global awareness about the massive scale of this calamity and the resulting loss of life and widespread devastation,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

($1=224.25 Pakistani rupees)

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