Monthlong flooding in Pakistan has so far killed 169 people, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority said Thursday, as rescuers continued to use helicopters and boats to transfer stranded residents to higher ground.
The majority of flood-related deaths — 79 — were reported in the country’s northwest, the authority said in a statement. An additional 48 victims were killed in the eastern Punjab province.
This week floodwaters submerged hundreds of villages, the authority said, adding that rescuers have evacuated nearly 800,000 people. The floods, which began in early July, have affected more than 1 million people, Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune reported.
Every year, typically from June to September, floods triggered by monsoon rains kill scores of people in Pakistan. A 2010 monsoon, which resulted in “the worst floods in the country’s history,” killed almost 1,800 people, according to Pakistani news site Dawn.
Some Pakistanis accuse their government of failing to invest in dams and other infrastructure needed to regulate water levels through wet and dry seasons.
After a fatal round of floods last year that killed more than 680 people in India and Pakistan, Ghulam Rasul, a weather scientist with Islamabad’s Meteorological Department, told Reuters that the flooding could cause water scarcity, saying that the intense rainfall in recent monsoons results in more runoff rather than recharging groundwater.
Pakistan already suffers from worsening water shortages. In December 2013 the World Resources Institute ranked Pakistan among the 36 most water-stressed countries in the world.
Al Jazeera and wire services