17 Aug 2010
It is striking how little coverage there has been of the arguably much more serious monsoon floods in Eastern Baluchistan over two weeks or so. Perhaps most notable was the lack of TV images, in stark contrast to what was beamed into our homes in the last week or so from KP and South Punjab.
In Baluchistan, floods came after heavy torrential rains in Zhob, Naseerabad and Sibbi divisions on 22 July. Amid claims by the government that rescue and relief operations were in full swing in calamity stricken areas, the flash flood claimed many lives, affecting over 200,000 people. The exact death toll in these parts of Baluchistan could not be ascertained, as the officials of the provincial government have no reliable data about the exact number of deaths or damages caused by the floods.
The Kohlu, Barkhan, Sibi and Naseerabad districts are the worst hit areas, where floods have caused colossal human and material losses. A total of 50 people were declared missing in Barkhan district and thousands of people have subsequently been shifted to safer places by rescue teams. According to provincial authorities, 42 people lost their lives and 50 are missing, while some 22,740 families have been affected. The monsoon rains and flash floods also wreaked havoc in Harnai distrct. The road linking Harnai with Quetta and Sanjavi, and thus with Punjab and the rest of the country, was suspended following the flood which swept away parts of roads. The flood water also caused breaches on the Harnai-Sibi connection and affected railway bridges there.
People in flood hit areas are still waiting for relief under the open sky. A victim of the flood from Kohlu, said, “We have been saved from the flood, but we may die of starvation. Affected people, cows and goats are stranded on rooftops without food and water in Kohlu”. The affected people remarked that the district administration had failed miserably to help the people, by providing them with relief and goods.
Fresh rains have further aggravated the situation. Flood water from Dera Bugti inundated several more villages in Dera murad Jamali, as flood affected people face various contagious diseases. The Rabi canal in the area has also been breached at two points, forcing the nearby population to take refuge on higher ground. The heavy and unprecedented flood on Kachhi and Sibi plains posed a serious threat to Uch Power Plant and nearby villages. Local people have expressed their anger with the authorities, who, they said, were ignoring the entire population and trying to protect the power-plant. Local people claimed that they were marooned and had not received any help. They said no rescue team was operating in this vast region of eastern Baluchistan. More than 40,000 square miles of eastern Baluchistan has been devastated in the flash floods.
Fresh torrential rains that continued for four days bring more misery and hardships for the poor people of the area. Affected people in Suhabatpur area are marooned in the middle of the flooded water without food or drinking water. The met office has predicted more rains in the coming days.