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Cities in Pakistan raise alarm again amid heavy rainfall a year after catastrophic floods killed 1,700

Floods last month submerged roads and bridges and killed dozens

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 04 July 2023 12:26 BST
Related video: India and Pakistan on high alert over ‘extremely severe’ cyclone Biparjoy

Monsoon rains lashing parts of Pakistan are raising concerns over urban flooding and the preparedness of the South Asian country a year after it was devastated by a massive deluge.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department issued warnings on Sunday that heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected to last for several days, increasing the risk of flooding in areas still recovering from the previous catastrophe.

Last year, Pakistan experienced its worst floods driven by the manmade climate crisis, which left a third of the country underwater, killed at least 1,700 people and caused damages over $30bn.

The Meteorological Department has predicted monsoon rains, that began from Monday, to last till the end of the week. Moist currents from the Arabian Sea are expected to penetrate the upper parts of Pakistan, accompanied by a westerly wave, leading to rain or thundershowers in various areas.

It said cities like capital Islamabad, Peshawar, and Lahore are at risk of flooding due to the heavy downpour, while vulnerable areas like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are at risk of landslides. The department advised authorities to remain on high alert.

Even though the monsoon season has just started, large parts of Pakistan that are still reeling from last year’s flooding have repeatedly been hit by flooding and heavy downpours in the last few weeks, raising fears over the preparedness of the country.

In June, authorities said at least 25 people died and 145 were injured due to heavy downpours and flooding in different parts of Pakistan. Eleven deaths were also reported due to lightning strikes.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms in late June disrupted public life in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, submerging roads and hospitals.

PNN, a Pakistani news channel, shared a video of a hospital flooded with water, while residents shared videos of bridges and roads underwater.

Earlier, tens of thousands of people in Sindh’s low lying areas, who also survived last year’s catastrophic floods, were evacuated and moved due to cyclone Biparjoy which lashed India and Pakistan with heavy rains.

South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, have been experiencing intensified heatwaves and monsoon due to climate change. Experts said the monsoon is becoming more erratic, causing above normal rainfall in a short period after longer dry spells.

Last year’s devastating floods in Pakistan were found to be more likely due to the climate crisis as the country faced intense rainfall within a short period, with melting glaciers leading to overflowing rivers.

The role of poor infrastructure and the early warning system, however, was also highlighted by scientists as a factor that increased the country’s vulnerability.

Pakistan is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to intensifying extreme weather events although it responsible for less than 1 per cent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

The country has received commitments of over $9bn from international donors to aid in recovery efforts, as rebuilding is estimated to cost approximately $16.3bn.

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