Pakistan floods’ death toll nears 1,500

Pakistan floods’ death toll nears 1,500

The floods brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern mountains have hit 33 million of a population of 220 million

Pakistan's unprecedented floods, which have submerged huge swathes of the South Asian nation, have killed nearly 1,500 people, data showed on Thursday, as authorities looked to step up relief efforts for millions affected by the disaster.

The floods brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern mountains have hit 33 million of a population of 220 million, sweeping away homes, transport, crops and livestock in damage estimated at $30 billion.

The tally of dead stands at 1,486, about 530 children among them, the National Disaster Management Authority said, as it released its first country-wide total since Sept 9, a period that saw 90 more people die.

Over the last few weeks, authorities have thrown up barriers to keep the flood waters out of key structures such as power stations as well as homes, while farmers who stayed to try and save their cattle faced a new threat as fodder began to run out.

The government and the United Nations have blamed climate change for the surging waters, in the wake of record-breaking summer temperatures, that have driven thousands from their homes to live in tents or along highways in the open.

Pakistan received 391 mm (15.4 inches) of rain, or nearly 190% more than the 30-year average, in July and August. That figure climbed to 466% for one of the worst-affected areas, the southern province of Sindh.

Aid flights from the United Arab Emirates and the United States arrived in the country on Thursday, the foreign ministry said. The United Nations is assessing reconstruction needs.

Meahwhile, Pakistan's prime minister on Wednesday promised the country's homeless people that the government will ensure they are paid to rebuild and return to their lives after the country's worst-ever floods.

With winter is just weeks away, half a million people are living in camps after being displaced by the flood, which destroyed 1.7 million homes. So far, the government’s priority has been to deliver food, tents and cash to the victims. The floods have killed 1,481 people since mid-June and affected 33 million.

"We will do our best to financially help you so that you can rebuild homes" and return to a normal life, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif told several families living in tents and makeshift homes in the town of Suhbatpur in Baluchistan. "Those who lost homes and crops will get compensation from the government," he said in his televised comments.

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Sharif also told dozens of school children, who were studying in a tent with help from the UN children’s agency UNICEF in the town of Suhbatpur, that they will get a new school in the next two months.

"Pakistan never witnessed such huge climate-induced devastation," Sharif told a gathering of lawyers in Islamabad on Wednesday. "It was painful to see inundated villages, towns and cities."

Sharif said the winter season will start in Pakistan after 15 days, and "then another challenge for the flood victims will be how to survive in the harsh cold as currently they were living in tents in summer.

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