‘Earthquake-like destruction’ in Pakistan floods

‘Earthquake-like destruction’ in Pakistan floods
29 August 2022

By the IFRC

(This story is an IFRC press release issued in Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. The IFRC has now launched an emergency appeal worth 25 million Swiss francs to assist more than 300,000 people.)

Almost a thousand are dead, including children, as ravaging floods displace over 3.1 million people while damaging more than half a million homes in multiple districts across the country.

In addition, almost 710,000 livestock are lost, and thousands of kilometres of roads and bridges destroyed. The floods are causing earthquake-like destruction.

The Chairman of Pakistan Red Crescent, Abrar ul Haq said: “The situation is worsening by the day. These torrential floods have severely restricted transportation and mobility.

“The threat of Covid-19 and damage to vehicles, infrastructure and connectivity are further making our emergency relief works almost impossible. Most of those affected are also immobile or marooned making us hard to reach them.

“Pakistan Red Crescent is currently providing relief assistance in 23 of the most affected districts. We have also started mobilizing help from International Committee of the Red Cross, Partner National Societies and local and international donors to support in relief and recovery activities.

“We have also deployed more 500 staff and volunteers to flood-affected districts.

“We fear the worst is yet to come as these kinds of waters could mean the risk of water-borne diseases are looming over the heads of our people.”

‘Abnormal monsoon’

The current rain spell and floods has impacted the already thousands of vulnerable and deprived communities, where many are yet to recover from the effects of Covid-19. They are now in an even worse situation after these floods.

Compounding effects from the pandemic are making it difficult for humanitarian organizations to immediately address and respond to the needs of those affected.

The IFRC Head of Delegation in Pakistan, Peter Ophoff said: “The IFRC is assisting the Pakistan Red Crescent in its response to the worst floods in a decade which have destroyed homes, crops, livelihoods and infrastructure and leaving millions vulnerable.

“Pakistan is experiencing abnormal monsoon rainfall nearly ten times higher than usual, resulting in uncontrollable urban and flash floods, landslides, across the country.

“Gaining a full picture of the scale of the disaster is difficult as many affected areas remain inaccessible due to inundated and damaged road networks.

“The devastation seen is giving frightening flashbacks of the devastating mega floods in 2010 which affected 20 million people.”

The South Asia region is facing unprecedented rainfall this monsoon season, causing flash floods and landslides wreaking havoc in Bangladesh, India and Nepal as well.

The IFRC has released around 500,000 US dollars from its emergency funds to immediately assist close to 31,000 affected people.

In-country partners the Turkish Red Crescent, the German Red Cross and the Norwegian Red Cross are equally aiding in the response operation.


This was a very extreme event – surpassing even the 2010 Pakistan ‘superflood’, as it quickly became know – so we can expect major impacts, writes Climate centre Director Maarten van Aalst.

Then as now, risk reduction, preparedness and early warning are critical. At the same time, of course, it’s a story of high vulnerability, with compounding effects including insecurity and Covid.

With flash floods and the failure of embanked defences, early warning and evacuation can be very daunting – especially when the last mile of early warning to remote areas is challenging and capacity for early action limited.

For climate change, it’s been a highly unpredictable season overall, and there are now questions on possible patterns linking extremes such as this monsoon flooding and the Chinese heatwave and drought, as there were in 2010 with the record-breaking heatwave in Russia and the exceptionally severe floods in Pakistan.  

As always, we’ll need the full scientific study getting underway to get close to certainty.

Destruction in the monsoon floods in Pakistan has been likened to an earthquake. The entire South Asia region has recorded unprecedented rainfall this monsoon season, also wreaking havoc in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. (Photo: Pakistan Red Crescent via IFRC)