A general view of a flooded road after heavy rains in
Lahore. Photo by Reuters
At least 73 people have been killed across Pakistan after
heavy rains brought flash floods and caused homes to collapse
in the Punjab and Kashmir regions.
Most deaths occurred in the city of Lahore, Prime Minister
Nawaz Sharif's powerbase, further damaging the government's
standing after weeks of protests aimed at forcing the premier
to step down.
As the political crisis dragged through its third week,
people's attention turned to the devastation brought by the
floods, with television channels showing live images of
villages and towns inundated by muddy water.
At least 43 people have been killed in Punjab province and 30
in the Himalayan region of Kashmir in recent days, officials
"Most of the 43 dead in Punjab died because the roofs of
their homes collapsed," said Nisar Saani, a director at the
Punjab Disaster Management Authority. "The rest were
Authorities have issued flood warnings across the country.
"We are bracing for more deaths as more rains are expected,"
said Khawaja Omer Rashid, a spokesman at Kashmir's disaster
In the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region, at least
65 people were killed after heavy rain triggered flash
floods, officials there said on Thursday.
Pakistan's civilian governments have long been perceived as
riddled by corruption and largely ineffective, leaving the
powerful military to step in during disasters.
This week, the army moved in across Punjab to carry out flood
relief work while poorly resourced civilian authorities
struggled to help.
Television pictures showed a military helicopter evacuating
people trapped by floods in the garrison city of Rawalpindi
near Islamabad. No floods were reported in the capital which
has also seen continuous torrential rainfall since Thursday.
In 2010, the worst floods in memory affected 20 million
people in Pakistan, with damage to infrastructure running
into billions of dollars and huge swaths of crops destroyed
as one fifth of the country was inundated.