- PM Shehbaz Sharif says will need trillions of rupees to cope with the calamity
SEHWAN: Eighteen more people have died in Pakistan, authorities said on Wednesday, taking to 1,343 the toll in unprecedented floods that have inundated more than a third of the South Asian nation, making hundreds of thousands homeless.
As many as 33 million of a population of 220 million have been affected in the disaster blamed on climate change, which officials estimate to have caused losses running into a minimum of $10 billion.
It is water everywhere as far as you could see. It is just like a sea: PM Shehbaz
Many of the affected are from the southern province of Sindh, where Pakistan's largest freshwater lake is dangerously close to bursting its banks, even after having been breached in an operation that displaced 100,000 people.
National disaster officials said eight children were among the dead in the last 24 hours. The floods were brought by record monsoon rains and glacier melt in Pakistan's northern mountains.
Pakistan looks 'like a sea' after floods, PM says
Parts of Pakistan seemed "like a sea", Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday, after visiting some of the flood-hit areas that cover as much as a third of the South Asian nation.
"You wouldn't believe the scale of destruction there," Sharif told media after a visit to the southern province of Sindh.
"It is water everywhere as far as you could see. It is just like a sea."
The government, which has boosted cash handouts for flood victims to 70 billion Pakistani rupees ($313.90 million), will buy 200,000 tents to house displaced families, he added.
Receding waters threaten a new challenge in the form of water-born infectious diseases, Sharif said.
"We will need trillions of rupees to cope with this calamity."
With more rain expected in the coming month, the situation could worsen further, a top official of the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned.
Already, the World Health Organization has said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas.
The raging waters have swept away 1.6 million houses, 5,735 kilometres (3,564 miles) of roads, railways, 246 bridges, telecommunication systems, 750,000 livestock, and swamped more than 2 million acres (809,370 hectares) of farmland.