From furnace to flood: Pakistan’s world’s hottest city now submerged in water

JAKOBABAD, Pakistan, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Not long ago, Sara Khan, principal at a school for underprivileged girls in Jacobabad, southern Pakistan, watched some students break out of the heat – the city that was the hottest city in the world. one point in May

Now, heavy monsoon rains have inundated large parts of the country, flooded its classrooms and left many of the 200 students homeless, struggling to get enough food and care for injured relatives. Huh.

In a short span of time, such extreme weather events have wreaked havoc across the country, killing hundreds, cutting off communities, destroying homes and infrastructure, and raising concerns over health and food security. . read more

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Jacobabad has also not been spared. In May, temperatures rose above 50 Celsius, drying up canal beds and causing some residents to collapse from heatstroke. Today, parts of the city are under water, although flooding has subsided from its peak. read more

Houses in the neighborhood of Khan in the east of the city were badly damaged. On Thursday, she said she heard cries coming from a neighbor’s house when the roof collapsed from water damage, killing their nine-year-old son.

Many of her students are unlikely to return to school for months, having already missed class time during the scorching heat.

“Jacobabad is the hottest city in the world, there are a lot of challenges… before people had heatstroke, now people have lost their homes, almost everything (in the flood), they are homeless,” she told Reuters.

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According to the city’s deputy commissioner, about 200,000 people in the city have been confirmed dead in the floods, 19 including children, while local hospitals reported many people were sick or injured.

More than 40,000 people are living in temporary shelters, mostly in overcrowded schools with limited access to food.

One of the displaced, 40-year-old Dur Bibi, was sitting under a tent in a school ground and recalled the moment she ran away from her house late last week after flooding her home.

“I grabbed my children and left the house barefoot,” she said, adding that she had a copy of the Quran.

Even after four days, he has not been able to get medicine for his daughter suffering from fever.

“I have nothing but these kids. Everything in my house is washed away,” she said.

weather extremes

The level of disruption in Jacobabad, where many people live in poverty, demonstrates some of the challenges that extreme weather events associated with climate change can create.

Athar Hussain, Head of the Center for Climate Change, said, “The manifestation of climate change is the more frequent and more intense occurrence of extreme weather events, and this is what we have seen during the past few months in Jacobabad as well as elsewhere globally. have seen.” Climate Research and Development at COMSATS University in Islamabad.

A study conducted earlier this year by the World Weather Attribution Group, an international team of scientists, found that heatwaves in Pakistan in March and April were 30 times more likely to cause climate change.

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Liz Stephens, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the UK, said the potential for global warming has also exacerbated the recent floods. This is because a warmer atmosphere is able to hold more moisture, which eventually results in heavy rain.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the country heavily dependent on agriculture is in trouble.

“If you are a farmer in Jacobabad… you could not plant your crop because of water shortage and heat and now your crop is damaged in monsoon and floods,” he told Reuters in an interview.

In Jacobabad, local health, education and development officials said unusually heavy rains were affecting vital services after record temperatures.

Hospitals that set up emergency heatstroke response centers in May are now reporting an influx of people injured in the floods and patients suffering from gastroenteritis and skin conditions, among unwell conditions.

The Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences (JIMS) said it has treated around 70 people in recent days who were injured by debris in the floods, including deep cuts and broken bones.

Hospital data shows that over 800 children were admitted to GIMS for gastroenteritis conditions in August during heavy rains, compared to 380 children admitted last month.

At the nearby Civil Hospital, where the grounds are partly under water, Dr Vijay Kumar said the cases of patients suffering from gastroenteritis and other ailments have at least tripled since the floods.

Rizwan Shaikh, chief officer of the Jacobabad Meteorological Office, recorded a high temperature of 51 degrees in May. Now he is tracking the continuous heavy rains and noting with alarm that there are two more weeks of the monsoon season left.

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“There is a very tense situation in all the districts,” he said.

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Syed Raza Hassan from Jacobabad and Charlotte Greenfield from Islamabad; Additional reporting by Gloria Dickey in London; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Alexandra Hudson

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