Flood aid arrives in Pakistan's worst-hit province

KARACHI, Pakistan — Two more U.S. military planes carrying tons of aid for Pakistanis hit by floods from deadly monsoon rains landed Sunday in southern Sindh province, one of the worst-hit regions in the impoverished country.

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

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

Ullah said on Sunday that two more flights carrying humanitarian goods from the United Arab Emirates had landed at the Karachi airport. UN agencies and several countries have so far sent multiple planes of aid, and officials say the UAE is one of the most generous donors.

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

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

Kilometers of cotton and sugarcane, banana orchards and vegetable fields could be seen submerged in the floods. Thousands of mud and brick houses collapsed under the flood, leaving people homeless and sheltered in tents along the damaged roads.

According to the latest official report, unprecedented monsoon rains and floods have destroyed more than 1.5 million houses, 63 bridges, 2,688 kilometers of roads and nearly half a million animals have drowned in the floods in Sindh province, leaving more than 30 million homeless.

Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa toured Sindh’s hard-hit Dadu district and its environs on Saturday. Dadu may face further flooding from the rising waters of the Indus River.

“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, limit pollution and reduce global warming, and that military engineers had been asked to conduct an initial study.

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

Since June, torrential rains and floods have added a new level of misery to cash-strapped Pakistan and highlighted the disproportionate effect of climate change on an impoverished population.

Experts say Pakistan is responsible for just 0.4% of the world’s historical emissions believed to be responsible for climate change. The US is responsible for 21.5%, China for 16.5% and the European Union for 15%.

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