International aid arrives in Pakistani province worst hit by floods

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Two more U.S. military planes loaded with tons of aid for Pakistanis affected by floods caused by deadly monsoon rains landed Sunday in the southern province of Sindh, one of the hardest-hit areas of the impoverished country.

Saif Ullah, spokesman for the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, said each plane was loaded with around 35 tonnes of humanitarian aid which would be distributed in the province by the World Food Programme. The plane landed at Sukkur airport in Sindh and Ullah said the US operation which started on Thursday would continue until September 16.

Pakistan has suffered from extremely heavy monsoon rains which started earlier this year – in mid-June. Several officials and experts have blamed the resulting rains and flooding on climate change. Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” over the dangerous environmental crisis. He repeatedly called on the international community to send massive amounts of aid to Pakistan.

READ MORE: UN chief links Pakistan floods to climate change, urges international community to provide aid

Ullah said on Sunday that two more flights carrying relief supplies from the United Arab Emirates had landed at Karachi airport. So far, UN agencies and several countries have sent several aid planes, and authorities say the UAE has been one of the most generous contributors.

Nearly 1,400 people have been killed, 13,000 injured and millions made homeless by heavy flooding since mid-June. The waters also destroyed road and communication infrastructure.

In the worst affected province of Sindh, 621 people, including 270 children, were killed and 8,400 injured.

Miles of cotton and sugar cane crops, banana orchards and vegetable fields could be seen submerged by flood waters. Thousands of mud and brick houses collapsed in the deluge, leaving people homeless and sheltering in tents along damaged roads.

Monsoon rains and unprecedented flooding have destroyed more than 1.5 million homes, 63 bridges, 2,688 kilometers of roads and nearly half a million animals have drowned in the latest report from authorities. floodwaters across Sindh province, leaving more than 30 million homeless. .

READ MORE: How to help flood victims in Pakistan

Pakistani military leader General Qamar Jawed Bajwa visited the badly affected district of Dadu in Sindh and its surroundings on Saturday. Dadu could suffer further flooding due to the rising waters of the Indus.

“People will continue to suffer if we don’t have a drainage system and dams,” Bajwa told reporters.

He said building dams would help generate electricity, reduce pollution and reduce global warming and that army engineers were asked to conduct an initial study.

Bajwa said it was essential to work on alternative energy sources and called for the gradual reduction of oil and coal as energy sources to minimum levels.

Since June, heavy rains and floods have added a new level of grief to cash-strapped Pakistan and highlighted the disproportionate effect of climate change on poor people.

Experts say Pakistan is only responsible for 0.4% of the world’s historic emissions that are responsible for climate change. The United States is responsible for 21.5%, China for 16.5% and the European Union for 15%.

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Asim Tanveer, an Associated Press writer in Multan, Pakistan, contributed.

Joan J. Holland