See the scale of Pakistan’s flooding in maps, photos and videos

Ratodero, a city in Pakistan's Sindh province, about 300 miles north of Karachi, was hit hard by recent flooding with homes seen destroyed on Aug. 29. (Video: Reuters)

“Apocalyptic.”

“Unprecedented.”

“A monsoon on steroids.”

Officials have struggled to put into words the scale of the flooding that has destroyed large parts of Pakistan. More than 1,000 people have died, and tens of millions more have been affected by months of incessant rain.

The flooding turned catastrophic over the past few weeks as monsoon season rainfall overwhelmed low-lying areas near the Indus River. Water spilled from its banks into the surrounding plains, destroying infrastructure and homes.

Maxar Technologies released satellite images of the city of Rojhan, in the state of Punjab, before and during the floods that showed entire communities cut off.

As Pakistan grapples with the loss of housing and farmlands as well as the risk of disease, many fear the country’s humanitarian disaster is only beginning.

190 percent more rainfall than normal

Exceptional rainfall began across Pakistan in June after months of historic heat waves and little precipitation.

The ground was dry and loose from record heat, causing landslides across the country. Melting glaciers triggered floods.

Rainfall picked up even more as monsoon season began in July, which became the wettest on record since 1961, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

Pakistan has had eight rounds of widespread rain this monsoon season, about double the normal amount. The country has experienced 190 percent more rainfall than average from the beginning of June to the end of August. As the Indus River swelled from the steady precipitation and glaciers melted, low-lying areas were devastated.

The last two weeks brought even more rainfall to Pakistan’s southern region.

Estimated 15-day rainfall

In inches Aug. 12-26

4

8

12

16

20

24

Peshawar

Islamabad

DETAIL

AFGHANISTAN

Lahore

Faisalabad

PAKISTAN

Quetta

Multan

PUNJAB

BALUCHISTAN

Rojhan

INDIA

Larkana

100 MILES

SINDH

Hyderabad

Karachi

Source: NASA Global Precipitation

Measurement Mission

THE WASHINGTON POST

Estimated 15-day rainfall

In inches Aug. 12-26

4

8

12

16

20

24

Peshawar

AFGHAN.

Islamabad

PUNJAB

Lahore

Faisalabad

PAKISTAN

Quetta

Multan

BALUCHISTAN

INDIA

Rojhan

Larkana

200 MILES

SINDH

Hyderabad

DETAIL

Source: NASA Global Precipitation

Measurement Mission

THE WASHINGTON POST

Estimated 15-day rainfall

In inches Aug. 12-26

4

8

12

16

20

24

AFGHAN.

Peshawar

200 MILES

Islamabad

Lahore

PUNJAB

PAKISTAN

Quetta

Multan

BALUCHISTAN

Rojhan

INDIA

Larkana

SINDH

Hyderabad

DETAIL

Source: NASA

Global Precipitation

Measurement Mission

THE WASHINGTON POST

Satellite imagery from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30 showed visible areas of flooding.

The provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh saw rainfall of 410 percent and 466 percent above average, respectively, from early June to Aug. 29. The ensuing floods have ravaged towns and upended lives.

Peshawar

Islamabad

AFGHANISTAN

Lahore

Indus

River

Faisalabad

PAKISTAN

Quetta

Multan

BALUCHISTAN

DETAIL

INDIA

Larkana

Pakistan flooding detected from

satellite imagery on Aug. 28 and 30.

SINDH

100 MILES

Hyderabad

Karachi

Source: NASA Terra/MODIS, Facebook

and Columbia University-CIESIN

THE WASHINGTON POST

Pakistan flooding detected from satellite

imagery on Aug. 28 and 30.

Peshawar

AFGHAN.

Islamabad

Indus

River

Lahore

Faisalabad

PAKISTAN

Quetta

Multan

BALUCHISTAN

Pakistan

population

density

shown

Larkana

INDIA

SINDH

DETAIL

Hyderabad

200 MILES

Karachi

Source: NASA Terra/MODIS, Facebook

and Columbia University-CIESIN

THE WASHINGTON POST

Pakistan flooding detected from

satellite imagery on Aug. 28 and 30

AFGHAN.

Peshawar

200 MILES

Islamabad

Indus

River

Lahore

Faisalabad

PAKISTAN

Quetta

Multan

BALUCHISTAN

Pakistan

population

density

shown

Larkana

INDIA

SINDH

Hyderabad

Karachi

DETAIL

Source: NASA Terra/MODIS,

Facebook and Columbia

University-CIESIN

THE WASHINGTON POST

“Rains have been going on in my village for the last two months,” said Zahid Ali Jalalani, a 35-year-old farmer in the Khairpur district of Sindh, who spoke to The Washington Post by phone. After a canal burst last week, his village flooded overnight, with water levels rising to 10 feet in some areas. Across the south, families waded through high water in search of dry land.

People waded through chest-high floodwater in Mingora, Pakistan, on Aug. 24, as floods wrought havoc in Swat district. (Video: Sungin Khan via Storyful)

“It was the most terrible night of my life,” he said. “My house is well built, but at one time it seemed as if the walls were shaking.”

More than 1,160 people dead

The extreme flooding has killed more than 1,160 people, many of them children, according to the Pakistani government.

Jalalani emerged from his home to the sound of cries for help, he recalled. He said he spent more than six hours saving people who were trapped by the water, which had risen past their shoulders. He knew one man who drowned.

“He was under a pile of rubble, and we couldn’t pull him out,” Jalalani said. “It was so dark.”

Hundreds of people from his village are in a makeshift camp, while there are nearly 500,000 people in displacement camps across the country.

Thousands more who have fled their homes in Sindh are still struggling to find care. Many walked for days in search of shelter and set up tents along the province’s main highway. Others have moved into abandoned buildings.

Press Enter to skip to end of carousel
How to help Pakistan
Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief has been operating in Pakistan since 1992. The organization is focused on providing food aid, access to clean water, and other humanitarian supplies. Donate here.
UNICEF
The United Nations Children’s Fund is working to provide health services, water and hygiene kits to families affected by the floods. The UN agency is also setting up temporary education centers. Donate here.
International Medical Corps
The International Medical Corps has been operating in the country since 1985. The organization is focused on providing medical care and supplies, mental health support, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services. Donate here.

1/3

End of carousel

At a high school in the city of Jamshoro, hundreds of people crowded into classrooms and the surrounding gardens. Most had nothing but the clothes they fled in.

Ghulam Qadir, 17, escaped his village two weeks ago. He and five of his family members have been sleeping in a classroom for over a week.

“We left our home when the water reached to almost my neck,” Qadir said. His house had begun to collapse. Two rooms caved in, and another was starting to crumble. “I was worried about my family, especially the children,” he said.

The government estimates that 33 million people have been affected by the floods, about 13 percent of the population.

Pakistanis in Baluchistan were left homeless Aug. 28, after the region was inundated with heavy rains and flooding. (Video: Associated Press)

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that 888 health facilities have been damaged, even as experts warned that the disaster could lead to an increase in disease and malnutrition. Standing water can act as breeding sites for mosquitoes that carry dengue fever and malaria.

Vector-borne disease researcher Erum Khan said dengue cases have already increased since the flooding. Her lab in Aga Khan University in Karachi reported more than 200 cases in August, compared with fewer than 30 in April. “Actual numbers are likely much higher,” Khan added.

$10 billion to rebuild

The destruction has left parts of the country unable to function. Officials said Tuesday that 1 million houses have been destroyed, as well as 2,100 miles of road — about the distance between D.C. and Salt Lake City. Bridges and dams were also ruined. Pakistani Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said Monday that more than $10 billion was needed to rebuild.

Thousands of acres of farmland are underwater, and aid workers are struggling to reach isolated communities.

“What lies ahead is food shortages affecting villages and cities alike,” Khan said.

Sindh’s agricultural economy “has totally collapsed,” Iqbal said at a news conference Tuesday. “Almost half of our cotton crop is destroyed,” he said. Rice has also been damaged, and 700,000 livestock have been lost across the country. He called the flooding a “climate disaster” and said Pakistan, one of the world’s lowest emitters of carbon dioxide per capita, was suffering the heaviest consequences of climate change.

“Someone is paying the price in the developing world,” Iqbal said.

Villagers in Dera Murad Jamali, Pakistan faced hardship on Aug. 28, as most of their belongings and sources of income washed away in recent flooding. (Video: Associated Press)

Ruby Mellen, Kasha Patel and Laris Karklis reported from Washington. Susannah George reported from Kabul. Haq Nawaz Khan reported from Jamshoro, Pakistan. Shaiq Hussain reported from Islamabad. Gerry Shih reported from Delhi.

Loading...
Loading...