A series of flash floods left a trail of devastation in one of the most vulnerable and poorest regions of Pakistan, destroying lives and property.
Drone footage from the southwestern province of Balochistan shows just some of the thousands of homes destroyed as people scramble to save what’s left. Heavy rains and flash floods in the past few weeks have killed at least 136 people and displaced thousands.
Dozens of people were lost, while thousands were forced to live in the open in sweltering heat, raising fears that the death toll could rise further.
Some of the hard-hit villages are on the outskirts of the provincial capital Quetta, but rescuers are finding it difficult to reach those in the interior of the mountainous region, which lacks proper communication.
The floods washed away major infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, bridges and roads, including those connecting these areas to Quetta and neighboring provinces.
The waters have receded in the area but meteorologists say more rain is expected in the coming weeks, leading to fears of an even bigger disaster in the area.
Drone footage and photos taken by the International Islamic Relief Agency show the rugged terrain strewn with debris and mud. Mud houses were reduced to rubble, while concrete structures were destroyed beyond recognition.
The area’s residents, most of whom live below the poverty line, have been left in a state of shock by the crisis and are scrambling for essential relief items.
While flash floods occur annually in the region, this year the floods have been more severe than usual. The impact of flash floods is often exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure and poor mud and stone homes.
As in the case of floods in Bangladesh and parts of northeastern India earlier this year, the human-caused climate crisis has played a role in exacerbating the floods in Balochistan through increased and more erratic rainfall.
Victims say they have not seen anything like this in decades after torrential rains inundated their village within a few hours, as floods swept through homes and left them scrambling to secure what was left of their belongings.
“Our area has been affected by the scarcity of water and the lack of rainfall and now it has rained for four hours and washed away everything, even our hopes,” said the octogenarian farmer Abdul Qadir.
“The rain is usually a relief in our area, but this was terrifying,” a resident known as Nassibullah, whose house has been reduced to rubble, told Islamic Relief.
“In the past 100 years, I don’t remember seeing such heavy rain in Bangbai,” said 105-year-old Khan Bibi, the oldest resident of Mian Khanzai village.
The organization that helps these victims says most people have been forced to evacuate their homes without food or essentials. Now, they are facing the challenge of rebuilding their homes even though more rain is expected soon.
Many residents spend their nights in the open because they are homeless. But after it rains, temperatures usually rise, posing the heat problem for vulnerable populations.
The sparsely populated area usually receives heavy rainfall over long periods of monsoons. But according to the World Weather Attribution, it’s possible that climate change has increased the frequency of flooding and extreme rain in some locations.
The Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that South Asia is highly vulnerable to high-frequency flooding.
“With more floods expected in Pakistan in the coming days, some of the most vulnerable communities will be affected,” said Tofail Hussain, director of Islamic Relief UK.
“This is a race against time to help people who have lost their homes and means of livelihood.”