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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sunday May 19, 2024
Sunday May 19, 2024

Devastating storms claim hundreds of lives in Pakistan and Afghanistan

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Torrential rains and severe weather conditions have resulted in widespread destruction and a significant death toll in both countries, with emergency responses underway

A catastrophic weather event has unfolded in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with hundreds reported dead due to intense storms characterized by heavy rainfall and lightning. Both nations are grappling with the aftermath of these severe conditions that have triggered landslides, destroyed homes, and caused extensive agricultural damage.

In Pakistan, officials confirmed the death of at least 50 people across the country, with a significant number of fatalities occurring in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This region faced the brunt of the storms, experiencing flash floods that led to landslides and widespread damage. The provincial disaster management authority reported the collapse of numerous houses particularly in the northwest and eastern Punjab province, with ongoing rains raising fears of further casualties.

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Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, witnessed severe flooding that disrupted daily life, mirroring scenes in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan province, where streets also flooded. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has responded by ordering the provision of relief aid and declaring a state of emergency in the affected southwestern regions of the country.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued warnings for more severe weather expected to hit the region, urging emergency services to maintain high alertness.

In Afghanistan, the situation is similarly dire, with the National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) reporting 50 deaths due to the storms. The impact extends beyond human casualties, with substantial damage to over 600 homes, significant losses to livestock, and the destruction of important infrastructure including roads and agricultural lands. The Taliban authorities have mobilized aid for nearly 23,000 families as flash floods wreak havoc across 20 of the nation’s 34 provinces.

These tragic events underscore the ongoing vulnerability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan to natural disasters, particularly in the context of climate change. Local leaders, including Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, have attributed the increased frequency and intensity of such weather events to global climate change—a crisis that Pakistan contributes to minimally yet suffers from disproportionately. This is reminiscent of the devastating floods in 2022, described by UN chief Antonio Guterres as a “monsoon on steroids,” which affected 33 million people and led to widespread destruction across Pakistan.

As both countries brace for potentially more severe weather, the international community watches closely, and aid efforts are being coordinated to address the immediate needs of the affected populations and to bolster resilience against future climatic threats.

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