• Friday, June 21, 2024

Asia

Pakistan braved worst April rains in decades

As may as 144 lives were lost due to heavy showers in the wettest month since 1961

Jhelum river overflowing after heavy rainfall in Muzaffarabad on April 29.

By: Eastern Eye

PAKISTAN experienced its “wettest April since 1961”, receiving more than twice as much rain as usual for the month, the country’s weather agency said in a report.

April rainfall was recorded at 59.3 millimetres, “excessively above” the normal average of 22.5 millimeters, Pakistan’s metrology department said late last Friday (3) in its monthly climate report.  

There were at least 144 deaths in thunderstorms and house collapses due to heavy rains in what the report said was the “wettest April since 1961”.  

Pakistan is increasingly vulnerable to unpredictable weather, as well as often destructive monsoon rains that usually arrive in July.  

A third of Pakistan was submerged by unprecedented monsoon rains that displaced millions of people in the summer of 2022 and cost the country $30 billion (£23.96bn) in damage and economic losses, according to a World Bank estimate. 

 “Climate change is a major factor that is influencing the erratic weather patterns in our region,” Zaheer Ahmad Babar, spokesperson for the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said of the report.  

While much of Asia is sweltering due to heatwaves, Pakistan’s national monthly temperature for April was 23.67 degrees Celsius, 0.87C lower than the average of 24.54C, the report said. 

 The highest rainfall was recorded in the southwestern province of Balochistan, with 437 per cent more than average.  

The country has the world’s fifth-largest population and is responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to officials, but is highly vulnerable to extreme weather exacerbated by global warming.  

The largest death toll was reported in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where 84 people died, including 38 children, and more than 3,500 homes were damaged.  

The UN children’s agency, Unicef, called last month for urgent action to save children on the frontlines of climate change.  

“Children in Pakistan are at ‘extremely high risk’ of the impacts of the climate crisis,” Unicef said in a statement. “Despite significant aid efforts, 9.6 million children were still in need of humanitarian assistance in flood affected areas by December 2023.”  

In some areas of Punjab, the most populous province and the breadbasket of a country facing an economic crisis, heavy rains and hailstorms caused damage to the wheat harvest, a staple food source.  

“The flash floods also caused extensive damage to vast area of crops, particularly the wheat crop, which was ready for harvest,” the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in a recent report.  

“This has resulted in significant economic losses for local farmers and communities, compounding the losses from the rain-related incidents,” it said.  

Parts of Pakistan have also been hit by heatwaves and severe air pollution, which experts say are exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure and ineffective governance. “We are witnessing climate age-related incidents nearly every year now. Yet we are not prepared for it,” said environment lawyer and activist Ahmad Rafay Alam.  

“It is the responsibility of our provincial and federal governments to prioritise climate relief and mitigation measures. However, their focus appears to be primarily on political matters,” Alam said. (AFP) 

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