‘Catastrophe of epic proportions’: Devastating monsoon floods in Pakistan

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in northern Pakistan on Saturday after a rapidly rising river destroyed a major bridge, as deadly floods wreak havoc across the country.

Powerful flash floods in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caused the Kabul River to swell, washing away a large bridge overnight, cutting off some districts from road access.

Downstream, fears of flooding around the river banks have caused around 180,000 people in Charsadda district to flee their homes, disaster officials say, with some spending the night on the highways with their livestock.

Monsoon rains and historic floods in Pakistan have affected more than 30 million people in recent weeks, the country’s climate change minister said, calling the situation a “climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions“.

The army has joined the country’s national and provincial authorities in responding to the floods and Pakistan’s army chief visited the southern province of Baluchistan, which was hit hard by the rains, on Saturday.

“The people of Pakistan are our priority and we will spare no effort to help them at this difficult time,” said army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Pakistani leaders have appealed for help from the international community and plan to launch an international appeal fund. The Foreign Ministry said Turkey had sent a team to help with rescue efforts.

“The scale of the calamity is greater than expected,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a tweet after touring flooded areas.

In neighboring Afghanistan, the Taliban administration has also appealed for help after flooding in central and eastern provinces.

The death toll from this month’s floods in Afghanistan has risen to 192, disaster officials said. Thousands of cattle have been killed and 1.7 million fruit trees destroyed, raising concerns about how families would feed themselves during the coldest months as the country faces an economic crisis .

“We call on humanitarian organizations, the international community and other relevant organizations and foundations to help us,” Sharafudden Muslim, deputy director of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Disasters, told a press conference, adding that more than one million families needed help.

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