QUETTA: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday visited Balochistan to oversee the relief work being done in the province after heavy monsoon rains took the lives of more than 120 people.
Torrential rains have wreaked havoc in Balochistan, leaving destruction in their way. More than 6,000 houses have been completely torn down, and over 10,000 houses are partially damaged.
As a result of the relentless rains, the prime minister formed a committee Thursday comprising of federal ministers, which was directed to visit flood-affected areas and submit a report in the next four days.
In conversation with journalists during his visit to the affected areas, the prime minister announced Rs1 million for the families whose members lost their lives in the rains and Rs500,00 for the people whose houses were destroyed, and Rs200,000 for the homes that were partially damaged.
However, he did not give a timeline for the disbursement. “We have formed a committee to assess the losses of livestock and damage to the crops,” PM Shehbaz said.
The prime minister added that the federal government’s committee would conduct surveys in liaison with the provinces. They will also remain in touch with Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, he said.
The premier said that the committee’s meeting has been called on August 3 in Islamabad, as he lamented that the rains have killed 124 in Balochistan — However, Geo News puts the tally at 125.
The prime minister added that more than 300 people have been killed in rain-related incidents across Pakistan.
Activities during visit
During the visit, the prime minister took an aerial view of flood-affected areas of Balochistan, while Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Aqaili briefed him about damages caused by heavy rains and floods.
PM Shehbaz was also briefed on ongoing relief activities in the affected areas. Later, the prime minister also visited Jhal Magsi and met flood-affected people in Shambani.
He directed the provision of medicines and the establishment of a relief camp beside the deployment of a veterinary doctor for the treatment of cattle in affected areas.
The prime minister also directed officials to expedite relief operations in all areas and provision of rations to people.
Earlier, the prime minister had also visited Jacobabad where he was briefed about relief activities in flood-affected areas.
Navy’s rescue operation underway
The Pakistan Navy is providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support to the people stranded in flash floods affected areas of Urki, Uthal, Lakhra, and other small isolated hutments of Lasbela District.
In a statement, the navy said that Commander Coast Rear Admiral Javed Iqbal, along with officials of the district administration, undertook an aerial visit of the flood-hit areas to review relief activities.
Pakistan Navy helicopters undertook multiple hops from Uthal to the affected areas to airdrop rations near people trapped in their homes.
“Airdrop of relief goods by helicopters has emerged as the most effective way of providing relief to people who could not be reached as road infrastructure has been wiped away by floods,” the statement said.
During the operation by Pakistan Navy helicopters, a critically ill woman and five other people trapped in floods were rescued and evacuated to Uthal for medical treatment.
Apart from the navy, the provincial government, district administration, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Pakistan Army, and Frontier Corps are also engaged in rescue and relief operations.
Sindh, KP announce support
Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah a day earlier telephoned Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Qudus Bizenjo and expressed solidarity with him in these distressing times, offering complete support.
During the call, CM Sindh offered every kind of support to his counterpart for the rehabilitation of the rain-affected people.
“We had sent 500 tents to Lasbela on Wednesday and dispatched 100 more tents to Uthal on Friday,” he said, adding that the Relief Department Sindh would coordinate with the concerned divisional commissioners in Balochistan for the dispatch of other relief items.
Seperately, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan Saturday announced a relief package for the flood affectees of Balochistan and directed the relevant authorities to ensure the provision of the announced package to flood-hit people within the next 24 hours.
As per special directives of the chief minister, 32 trucks of relief packages from the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be dispatched to the flood-hit people of Balochistan.
The relief package includes, 1,000 tents, 1,000 mattresses, 1,000 hygiene kits, 1,000 blankets, 1,000 quilts, 1,000 tarpaulin sheets, 1,000 mosquito nets, and 20 number of dewatering pumps.
Similarly, essential medicines and 1,000 food packages are also part of the relief package.
More rains predicted
The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast more rains across the country, including Balochistan — which means that the people’s misery will prolong and rescue works will be hampered.
The meteorological department forecast more rains in Khuzdar, Zhob, Barkhan, Kohlu, Musa Khel, Sherani, Sibbi and Bolan for the next 24 hours.