2010 Pakistan floods



The 2010 Pakistan floods began in July 2010 following heavy monsoon rains in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan. Present estimates indicate that over two thousand people[2] have died and over a million homes have been destroyed since the flooding began.[3] The United Nations estimates that more than 21 million[4] people are injured or homeless as a result of the flooding, exceeding the combined total of individuals affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[5] At one point, approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was underwater due to the flooding.[6][7][8]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked for an initial $460 million for emergency relief, noting that the flood was the worst disaster he had ever seen. 50% of the relief funds requested have been received as of 15 August 2010.[9] The U.N. is concerned that aid is not arriving fast enough, while the World Health Organization reported that ten million people were forced to drink unsafe water.[10] The Pakistani economy has been harmed by extensive damage to infrastructure and crops.[11] Structural damages are estimated to exceed 4 billion USD, and wheat crop damages are estimated to be over 500 million USD.[12] Officials estimate the total economic impact to be as much as 43 billion USD
Causes
Current flooding is blamed on unprecedented monsoon rain.[15] The rainfall anomaly map published by NASA shows unusually intense monsoon rains attributed to La Niña.[16] On 21 June, the Pakistan Meteorological Department cautioned that urban and flash flooding could occur from July to September in the north parts of the country.[17] The same department recorded above-average rainfall in the months of July and August 2010,[18] and monitored the flood wave progression.[19] Some of the discharge levels recorded are comparable to those seen during the floods of 1988, 1995, and 1997.[20]

An article in the New Scientist[21] attributed the cause of the exceptional rainfall to “freezing” of the jet stream, a phenomenon that reportedly also caused unprecedented heat waves and wildfires in Russia as well as the 2007 United Kingdom floods.[22]

The Indus River has flooded before. In reponse to major floods in 1973 and 1976, Pakistan created in 1977 the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) that operates under Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power. The FFC is charged with executing flood control projects and protecting lives and property from the impact of floods. Since its inception the FFC has received Rs 87.8 billion (about $ 900 million) and its documents demonstrate that numerous projects were initiated, paid for, and seemingly completed. However, it appears that very little actual work was done on the ground due to ineffectiveness and corruption.
Flooding and impact
Monsoon rains were forecasted to continue into early August and were described as the worst in this area in the last 80 years.[24] The Pakistan Meteorological Department reported that over 200 mm (7.88 inches) of rain fell over a 24-hour period in a number of places in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and more should be expected.[25] A record-breaking 274 mm (10.7 inches) of rain fell in Peshawar during 24 hours,[26] previously 187 mm (7.36 inches) of rain was recorded in April 2009.[27] So far 500,000 or more people have been displaced from their homes.[24] On 30 July, Manuel Bessler, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that 36 districts were involved, and 950,000 people were affected,[28] although within a day, reports increased that number to as high as a million,[29] and by mid-August to nearly 20 million affected.[30] By mid-August according to the governmental Federal Flood Commission (FFC) the floods had caused the death of at least 1,540 people, while 2,088 people had received injuries, 557,226 houses been destroyed and over 6 million people been displaced.[23] One month later, the data had been revised to reveal 1,781 deaths, 2,966 people with injuries, and more than 1.89 million homes destoyed.[31]

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial minister of information, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, said “the infrastructure of this province was already destroyed by terrorism. Whatever was left was finished off by these floods.”[32] He also called the floods “the worst calamity in our history.”[33] Four million Pakistanis were left with food shortages.[34]

Officials have warned that the death toll could rise, as many towns and villages are not accessible, and communications have been disrupted. In some areas, the water level was 5.5 m (18 ft) high and residents were seen on roof-tops waiting for aid to arrive.[33] The Karakoram Highway, which connects Pakistan with China, was closed after a bridge was destroyed.[35] The ongoing devastating floods in Pakistan will have a severe impact on an already vulnerable population, says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In addition to all the other damages the floods have caused, floodwater have destroyed much of the health care infrastructure in the worst-affected areas, leaving inhabitants especially vulnerable to water-borne disease.[36] In Sindh, the Indus River burst its banks near Sukkur on 8 August, submerging the village of Mor Khan Jatoi.[34] There is also an absence of law and order, mainly in Sindh. Looters have been taking advantage of the floods by ransacking abandoned homes using boats.
In early August, the heaviest flooding moved southward along the Indus River from severely-affected northern regions toward western Punjab, where at least 1,400,000 acres (570,000 ha) of cropland was destroyed,[34] and the southern province of Sindh.[38] The crops affected were cotton, sugarcane, rice, pulses, tobacco and animal fodder. Floodwaters and rain destroyed 700,000 acres (3,000 km2) of cotton, 200,000 acres (800 km2) acres each of rice and cane, 500,000 tonnes of wheat and 300,000 acres (1,000 km2) of animal fodder.[39][40] According to the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, the floods destroyed 2 million bales of cotton, which led to an increase in futures of the commodity in international market.[41][42] 170,000 citizens (or 70% of the population) of the historic Sindh town of Thatta fled advancing flood waters on 27 August 2010.[43]

Pakistani authorities predicted that additional rainfall was expected to trigger two further waves of flooding in mid-August, inundating more land and swallowing more villages. One of these new flood surges was sweeping down from mountainous areas in the north as of August 11, and was expected to hit highly populated areas in the coming days, while the second wave was being formed in the mountains.[44]

[edit] Heavy rainfalls recorded during the wet spell of July 2010
Heavy rainfalls of more than 200 millimetres (7.9 in) recorded during the four day wet spell of July 27 to July 30, 2010 in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab based on data from the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

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