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Pakistan sinks in record rainfall, urban flooding

Caritas volunteers join relief efforts after the Catholic charity's Karachi office is flooded

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Pakistan sinks in record rainfall, urban flooding

A girl carries a tea kettle as she wades through a flooded street after heavy monsoon rain in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Aug. 25. (Photo: Rizwan Tabassum/AFP)

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More than 100 people have died and 1,000 houses have been damaged as unprecedented torrential monsoon rain wreaked havoc in Sindh and Balochistan provinces in Pakistan.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has declared an emergency in Sindh province after the Meteorological Office confirmed that a 90-year record was broken with a 345mm downpour in Karachi. Urban flooding, waterlogging and strong monsoon currents are expected this week.

More than 20 vehicles were damaged on Aug. 25 by a landslide in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. The Caritas Pakistan Karachi (CPK) office in the southern archdiocese was flooded under one meter of water.

“Rainwater mixed with rubbish started entering the building in the afternoon. Our official records, computers and furniture were destroyed. Half of our staff couldn’t reach the office. Our vehicles couldn’t start,” said CPK executive secretary Mansha Noor.

“It is a tough situation. Streets around our office are still flooded. We have become vulnerable ourselves. Both climate change and the blockage of 64 major drains [due to encroachment] are mainly responsible. Lack of coordination between rival political parties has further increased challenges in the largest city of the country.”

Caritas Pakistan’s national secretariat is supporting the diocesan unit to carry out initial assessments and visits in affected areas, provide immediate relief of food, water and other items as well as tents and plastic sheets for temporary shelter.

“It has been terrible season for urban localities in major cities affected consecutively during six spells of monsoon. There are very tragic stories of miseries faced by women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities,” said Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan.

The Catholic charity is providing relief support for flood-affected people around the country. Caritas Pakistan Quetta in Balochistan province distributed food packages among 50 families on Aug. 25 in the village of Zarwah Bangulzai.

Last week CPK distributed popular Indian food biryani and mineral water to 150 families in St. Michael’s Parish. Volunteers of Jafaria Disaster Management Cell (JDC), a Muslim charitable organization, joined Caritas staff for the distribution.

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