Floods in Pakistan threaten millions of lives every year
The 1950 flood is one of the earliest major floods after its independence in 1947. The flood affected vast areas of Punjab and caused considerable economic destruction. Due to the absence of adequate dams and water reservoirs, the 1973 Balochistan floods resulted in a massive loss of life and property. Pakistan experiences annual monsoon rains and has several rivers that can overflow during the rainy season, causing widespread flooding. A combination of melting glaciers and monsoon rains swelled the Indus River and caused tremendous floods. Unarguably the most devastating flood in Pakistan’s history is the 2010 Indus River Flood. It not only affected 20 million people, with a death toll exceeding 2,000 but also damaged a great amount of property and the economy. It took a long time to recover from the widespread displacement and massive economic losses. Periodic monsoon rains, particularly in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh, lead to crop damage, displacement, and the spread of waterborne diseases. Almost every year, the monsoon season brings with it varying levels of floods. Pakistan’s 2022 monsoon season produced significant rainfall. From June to October, weeks of heavy monsoon rain flooded the Sutlej River. The overwhelming flood affected 33 million people and killed more than 1730 lives.
Earthquakes in Pakistan have taken more than 83 thousand lives since 1950
Pakistan lies on the boundary of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, making it highly susceptible to earthquakes. The collision of these plates leads to seismic activity, causing earthquakes. Pakistan has a history of earthquakes with magnitudes of more than 7. The 1935 Quetta earthquake, measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale, left around 30,000 people dead and devastated the city.
The most destructive earthquake was the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake which shook the foundations of the region. It left over 73,000 people dead and 3.5 million homeless. It was recorded to be of 7.6 magnitude, reminding the region’s vulnerability to tectonic movements. After almost a decade, another strong earthquake affected both Afghanistan and Pakistan. It originated in the mountainous regions of the Hindu Kush in 2015. Only in Pakistan, it claimed over 300 lives and injured thousands. These natural disasters in Pakistan often displace communities and strain the country’s disaster management capabilities.
Landslides and Avalanches in Pakistan disrupt transportation
Northern areas in Pakistan are more prone to dangerous landslides and avalanches as this region is characterized by mountainous ranges. It is fairly common to witness landsliding especially during the monsoon season. According to several reports, Pakistan’s northern parts are at high risk of land sliding as the areas have received 30 percent to 40 percent above normal winter rains and snowfall for several past years. These not only disrupt communication but also pose a significant threat to the local populations. Numerous landslides in the past were triggered by the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. This daunting situation hampered relief attempts due to the blockage of roads. In 2010, another major landslide in Hunza Valley led to the formation of the Attabad Lake, causing the displacement of thousands of residents.
The Siachen Glacier Avalanche stands out as a significant episode in the history of natural disasters in Pakistan. This tragic event in 2012 buried 129 Pakistani soldiers beneath layers of snow. Siachen, positioned in one of the world’s highest battlegrounds, is a testament to the severe natural disasters Pakistan faces. The intense and unforgiving weather conditions made recovery operations and rescue efforts incredibly arduous. Landslides, a recurrent type of natural disasters in Pakistan, not only hinder transportation but also pose grave threats to both human lives and infrastructure