Nearly 1,000 people have been killed during devastating floods caused by monsoon rains that have hit much of Pakistan since June, officials said Saturday, reported DW, quoting news agencies .AP and AFP.
The new death toll was announced a day after Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif declared an emergency and asked for international help in responding to the disaster.
Rescuers have struggled to evacuate thousands of people left marooned by the floods, and the rainy season still has another two weeks to run.
What is the latest on the ground?
The National Disaster Management Authority said the death toll had increased by 45 over the 24 hours into Saturday.
Many rivers in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — a picturesque province of rugged mountains and valleys — have overflowed in the past few days, sweeping away entire buildings, including an iconic hotel.
A local resident told The Associated Press that road access from Kalam Valley to the rest of the province and both power and communications were down.
The sheer volume of water destroyed the gates of a major water control system at the Swat River, leading to flooding in the districts of Charsadda and Nowshera, said Sania Safi, a top administrator in Charsadda.
In Sukkur, over 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Swat, farmlands irrigated by the Indus were under water, and tens of thousands of people were seeking shelter on elevated roads and highways.
An official in Baluchistan said all 34 districts of the impoverished province in Pakistan's southwest were badly affected, with road networks destroyed and bridges washed away.
More evacuations ordered
On Saturday, authorities ordered thousands of residents in threatened areas to evacuate their homes as rivers were close to bursting their banks and as the rains were expected to continue this week.
"Initially some people refused to leave, but, when the water level increased, they agreed," Bilal Faizi, spokesman for the Rescue 1122 emergency service, told the AFP news agency.
Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb said soldiers and rescue organizations were helping people reach safety in many districts of Sindh in the south, Punjab in the east and Baluchistan in the southwest of the country.
"[The] government has sanctioned sufficient funds to financially compensate the affected people, and we will not leave our people alone in this tough time," she said.
Thousands more people have been displaced over the past two months, with many now living in tents miles away from their inundated villages and towns after being rescued.
Officials say this year's flooding has affected more than 33 million people — one in seven Pakistanis — destroying or badly damaging nearly a million homes.
Over 2 million acres of cultivated crops have also been wiped out, 3,100 kilometers (1,926 miles) of roads have been destroyed, and 149 bridges have been washed away, the National Disaster Management Authority said.
Local and international aid requested
The government has asked wealthy Pakistanis and relief organizations to come forward with aid to help flood-affected people.
In response to Sharif's appeal for international help, the United Nations is planning a $160 million (€160.5 million) flash call for donations, according to a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman. The appeal will be launched on August 30.
Officials say this year's floods are comparable to the country's worst recorded in 2010, when more than 2,000 people died and nearly one-fifth of the country was under water.
Though the annual monsoon is essential for irrigating crops and replenishing lakes and dams, officials say human-caused climate change has brought stronger monsoons and more destruction.
Corruption, poor planning and the flouting of local regulations also mean that thousands of buildings have been erected in areas prone to seasonal flooding.
The flooding comes as Pakistan's economy is in free fall and national politics are gripped by crisis following the ousting of Prime Minister Imran Khan in April.