Over one-third of Pakistan underwater, overflowing Indus creates long lake

Published on Sep 03, 2022 06:21 AM IST

More than 1,100 people have died from the floods since mid-June, nearly 400 of them children, while millions have been displaced, according to Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The left side of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 image shows a wide view of the area affected and the image on the right zooms into the area between Dera Murad Jamali and Larkana.(ESA)
The left side of the Copernicus Sentinel-1 image shows a wide view of the area affected and the image on the right zooms into the area between Dera Murad Jamali and Larkana.(ESA)

More than a third of Pakistan is now underwater due to what the United Nations chief called “monsoon on steroids”. The flood-ravaged country has received ten times heavier rainfall than usual since mid-June. The satellite images shared by the European Space Agency show the extent of the flood that has claimed more than 1,100 lives and affected over 33 million people in Pakistan. Houses, agricultural lands, and infrastructure have been washed away in one of the worst floods in the country’s history. (Also Read | Pakistan floods: Aid pours in amid massive devastation, deaths cross 1,200 mark)

An overflowing Indus River has effectively created a long lake, tens of kilometres wide, according to satellite images. The blue to black colours in the image shared by ESA after mapping the data captured from space by Copernicus Sentinel-1 show where the land is submerged.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who recently took over the reins after ousting Imran Khan over the economic crisis, said it will cost at least $10 billion to repair damaged infrastructure. Pakistan is facing twin crises of food and health due to the unprecedented floods.

"Our priority right now is to help save and protect lives as waters continue to rise. The scale of these floods has caused a shocking level of destruction -- crops have been swept away and livestock killed across huge swathes of the country, which means hunger will follow," said Saleh Saeed, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee, a United Kingdom-based aid coalition.

The World Health Organization has classified the flood as an emergency of "the highest level," warning of a rapid spread of disease due to the lack of access to medical assistance.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the flooding has led to new outbreaks of diarrheal diseases, skin infections, respiratory tract infections, malaria, and dengue, warning that the loss of crops and livestock will have a significant impact on the nutrition and health of many communities who depend on these resources.

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