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Rainstorms Kill More Than 130 in Afghanistan and Pakistan

WorldAsiaRainstorms Kill More Than 130 in Afghanistan and Pakistan


A deluge of unseasonably heavy rains has lashed Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent days, killing more than 130 people across both countries, with the authorities forecasting more flooding and rainfall, and some experts pointing to climate change as the cause.

In Afghanistan, at least 70 people have been killed in flash floods and other weather-related incidents, while more than 2,600 homes have been destroyed or damaged, according to Mullah Janan Sayeq, a spokesman for the Ministry of Disaster Management. At least 62 people have died in the storms in neighboring Pakistan, which has been hammered by rainfall at nearly twice the average rate for this time of year, according to Pakistani officials.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the Pakistani region bordering Afghanistan, appears to be the hardest hit. Flash floods and landslides caused by torrential rains have damaged homes and destroyed infrastructure. Photos and videos from the province show roads turned into raging rivers, and homes and bridges being swept away.

“The rains have caused significant damage,” Bilal Faizi, spokesperson for the provincial disaster management authority, said in a phone interview. He added that at least 33 people had died in the province over the past four days, and 336 houses had been destroyed.

Around midnight on Monday in Swat Valley, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Akbar Zada woke up to a thunderous crash after a boulder tumbled down a nearby mountain in the rain and destroyed a room of his home where two of his sons were sleeping. The boys, 14 and 16, were both killed.

“The rain has been relentless these past years, and now it’s taken my sons,” Mr. Zada said in a phone interview.

The deluge in Afghanistan and Pakistan began at the same time that rainstorms swept the Gulf, battering the United Arab Emirates and Oman with record-setting rainfall that killed at least 20 people in both countries. The storms in the United Arab Emirates constituted the largest rainfall event in the region in 75 years.

In Pakistan, the recent flooding comes just over two years after a devastating monsoon season battered the country in 2022, killing over 1,700 people and affecting about 33 million more. That flooding destroyed millions of acres of crops, caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage and started an international conversation about the environmental costs of global warming that poorer countries disproportionately shoulder.

The rainstorms this week offered more grim reminders of those costs. In Swat Valley, a popular tourist destination, landslides and washed-out roads caused by the heavy rains stranded thousands, mostly tourists, according to Amjad Ali Khan, a local member of Parliament who oversaw rescue efforts. At least 15 landslides have been reported in the area.

“To mitigate future climate-change disasters, the provincial government has plans to build retention dams to manage water flow and control deforestation to prevent soil erosion,” Dr. Khan said.

Heavy rains also triggered devastating flash floods that tore through Pakistan’s Balochistan Province, particularly its coastal region, causing widespread damage in Gwadar, a seaside city.

Last month, Gwadar received an exceptional amount of rainfall exceeding seven inches in less than 48 hours. Situated in an arid region of southern Pakistan, Gwadar had not experienced a deluge of that magnitude in recent memory, and the rainfall submerged most buildings in the city.

On Thursday, people in Pakistan were bracing for more heavy rain as the authorities issued another flood warning for early next week. Officials blamed unseasonably fast-melting glaciers in several Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts for the coming floods.

Those weather warnings also spurred concerns about the unseasonable rain affecting Pakistan’s wheat harvest, and stoked fears that the country’s monsoon season between June and September might also bring increased levels of devastation this year.

“This is exactly what we’ve been warning about,” said Muhammad Qasim, a professor of environmental science at the University of Swat. “Climate change is leading to more erratic weather patterns, with extreme events like heat waves, droughts and unpredictable monsoons becoming increasingly common.”

Safiullah Padshah contributed reporting.



#Rainstorms #Kill #Afghanistan #Pakistan

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