Pakistan floods: River Chenab continues to rise; mosque collapse toll rises to 24

Floodwaters have inundated large parts of Punjab and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, destroying villages, knocking off powerlines and killing over 240 people, reports said Wednesday.

Pakistan floods: River Chenab continues to rise; mosque collapse toll rises to 24

Islamabad: Floodwaters have inundated large parts of Punjab and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, destroying villages, knocking off powerlines and killing over 240 people, reports said Wednesday.

According to authorities, most of those killed were from Punjab province.

Despite numerous warnings by the government, residents are reluctant to leave their houses, said Punjab government spokesperson Zaeem Qadri, reported the Dawn.

The government is hence using police force to evacuate people out of their homes forcefully from those areas which are either already badly affected or are highly vulnerable to floods.

In what is being described as “superflood'', river Chenab rose suddenly, drowning several homes over the weekend. According to officials, River Chenab is in very high flood at Trimmu Barrage with water level 477,345 cusecs, reported Radio Pakistan.

According to Flood Forecasting Center, the water level at Trimmu will continue rising in the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours, the report added.

The National Disaster Management Agency, NDMA says 299 relief camps have been set up in different areas of Punjab, and two in Azad Kashmir for flood-hit people.

Authorities in Pakistan say the floods, which began Sept. 3, are the worst since massive flooding killed 1,700 people in 2010.

Pakistan's minister for water and power, Khwaja Mohammad Asif, warned parliament that some 700,000 people have been told to leave their homes, which could be inundated in the next four days.

So far, 241 have died in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, including 24 worshippers killed Tuesday when the roof of a mosque collapsed on them in the eastern city of Lahore, authorities said. Earlier the death toll was only 10, but later 14 more bodies were pulled from the rubble.

In Pakistan, the floods are now moving south, said Ahmad Kamal, a spokesman for the country's National Disaster Management Authority.

Although the rains have stopped, the flood waters are likely to submerge hundreds of more villages. Pakistani authorities braced for worsening conditions as water levels in the Chenab and Indus rivers rose, Kamal said.

Pakistani and Indian troops have been using boats and helicopters to drop food supplies for stranded families and evacuate victims. However, the challenge of the situation grows as more than 1.5 million people are now affected as the rushing waters have destroyed the homes of thousands of families.

"This is a sad moment for all of us," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, addressing flood victims in the country's Hafiz district. "These floods came suddenly and no one knew that such a large flood was coming."

The floods have triggered landslides in the divided Kashmir region, split between the two arch rivals, and caused much devastation in northern and eastern Pakistan.

With Agency Inputs

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