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Dozens dead in Pakistan as heavy rain causes floods

Caritas volunteers join efforts to rescue people and their belongings

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Dozens dead in Pakistan as heavy rain causes floods

A Caritas Pakistan volunteer in a flooded neighborhood of Karachi on July. (Photo: Mansha Noor)

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About 36 people are reported to have died after torrential rain triggered flash floods and urban flooding in Pakistan.

An emergency has been imposed at hospitals across Karachi, where paramilitary forces are helping traffic police in rescuing commuters amid traffic jams, flooding of roads and destruction of infrastructure.

“We were stuck in homes this Sunday as people shared videos of motorcycles and even cars being swept away in strong floods. Several people were injured by tiles falling from high buildings,” Mansha Noor, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan Karachi, told UCA News.

“The frontline volunteers of our disaster management committees (DMCs) continued rescue efforts during heavy rains and helped in saving people and their belongings in low-lying areas.”

Father James Shamaun parish priest of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Wah Cantonment, a military city in Punjab province, shared the devastation in a Facebook Live video recorded on July 25. The priest described visiting a flooded church in Taxila, another city of the Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi.

“The river is flooded. We pray here every Sunday evening. We cannot reach there in this situation. We shall pray here depending on the weather,” he said. The clip has been viewed more than 3,300 times.

Meanwhile, Caritas is developing a response plan for a flood emergency this year. The charity has inspired DMCs in all six dioceses and the apostolic prefecture, empowering disaster-prone communities to help themselves. 

Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan, said the floods will worsen livelihood challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Covid-19 has changed the scenario of country. Rain-related damages have added to the losses of the poor and daily wagers struggling amid the lockdown," he said.

“DMCs have been especially instructed to observe social distancing and SOPs [standard operating procedures] in rescue and relief efforts. Our response plan includes food kits, hygiene kits, shelter and non-food items.”

Caritas Pakistan Karachi under its Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction project this month organized monsoon preparedness sessions. Last month Caritas Pakistan Multan collaborated with Punjab Emergency Service, Rescue 1122 and other district departments to conduct flood mock exercises in Muzaffargar.

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