At least 77 people have died in the monsoon rains that lashed Pakistan, the country’s climate minister said on Wednesday, warning heavier-than-usual rains are on the way.
“For me, it’s a national tragedy,” Sherry Rehman said at a news conference in the capital, adding that the tribute was collected from June 14, when the monsoon began.
“When people die like that, it’s no small thing… It’s just the beginning. We have to prepare for it.”
Most of the deaths occurred in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where 39 people drowned or were electrocuted by downed power lines.
The monsoons, which typically last from June to September, are essential for irrigating crops and filling lakes and dams across the Indian subcontinent, but they also bring a wave of destruction each year.
Poorly built houses across Pakistan – particularly in rural areas – tend to collapse during floods that also destroy vast tracts of prime farmland.
The worst floods in recent memory came in 2010 – covering nearly a fifth of the country’s landmass – killing nearly 2,000 people and displacing 20 million.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index compiled by the environmental NGO Germanwatch, Pakistan is the eighth country most affected by extreme weather conditions caused by climate change.
“One day you have a drought and the next morning you expect a flash flood … so you can see how serious the situation is in Pakistan,” Rehman said.
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