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Heavy monsoon rains kill 77 in Pakistan in three weeks

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QUETTA, Pakistan – At least 77 people, including women and children, have been killed in rain-related incidents across Pakistan in the past three weeks, the climate change minister said on Wednesday.

Monsoon rains have also damaged homes, roads, bridges and power plants across the country since June 14, the minister, Sherry Rehman, told a news conference in the capital, Islamabad, as storms ravaged the country.

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Rehman said 39 of 77 people died in rain-related incidents in Baluchistan, a large but sparsely populated province in the southwest of the country.

A man’s body will be carried to his funeral outside Quetta on Tuesday. Arshad Butt / AP

“This is a national disaster,” Rehman said of the rain-related casualties.

TV footage shows some vehicles in Baluchistan being swept away by the flooding.

Heavy rain also hit Islamabad and the eastern province of Punjab.

In a statement, President Arif Alvi expressed his grief and sorrow at the loss of life in Baluchistan and elsewhere in the country.

Streets and houses were flooded in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, the provincial emergency response agency said.

Image: Residents clear debris from a damaged home caused by torrential monsoon rains on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, on July 5, 2022.
Half of the 77 deaths from rain occurred in southwestern Baluchistan province. Banaras Khan / AFP – Getty Images

Rehman said recent rains in Pakistan were 87 percent heavier than the average downpour.

Linking the new pattern to changes in climate, she said Pakistan should be ready to cope with more flooding as the country’s glaciers are melting at a faster rate. This causes flash floods that have damaged infrastructure.

Naseer Nasar, a spokesman for the Baluchistan disaster management agency, told The Associated Press that at least 50 people had been injured in rain-related incidents in the province since June. He said rescuers were transporting people to safer places away from flooding and rain-stricken areas in Baluchistan.

Every year, many cities in Pakistan struggle with the annual monsoon flood and come under criticism for the government’s poor planning. The season runs from July to September and experts say rain is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing dams and other water reservoirs in Pakistan.

Some parts of South Pakistan have been dealing with drought since earlier this year.

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