In early September 2014, heavy rainfall in northern India and Pakistan resulted in widespread flooding in Indian Jammu and Kashmir, and the Pakistan provinces of Azad Kashmir, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and later Sindh province.
This was the fourth consecutive year of high-impact monsoon rains in Pakistan. In 2013, flooding killed 178 people and affected 1.5 million. 2010 saw some of the worst floods in Pakistan’s history, killing 1,800 and affecting 21 million.
Fatalities and Affected Population Figures 2014
367 people died in the disaster. Over 2.5 million people were affected by the flooding from over 4,000 villages. Nearly 700,000 poeple were evacuated and the floods left over 100,000 homes damaged.
Livelihoods were also damaged, in particular agriculture. In Punjab, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, more than 2.4 million acres of crops have been lost and 9,000 cattle perished.
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Rescue and Relief Operations
The flooding sparked a massive rescue and relief operation run by National and Local Disaster Management Authorities and the Pakistan military, carrying out rescues, evacuations, medical assisatance and the distribution of food packs and other relief supplies. Almost 100,000 tents were distributed to those left homeless by the floods.
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The initial rainfall caused flash flooding and landslides in parts of of Azad Kashmir, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Levels of the rivers Indua, Jehlum, Chenab and Ravi began to rise soon after, which flooded areas along river banks and later affected parts of Sindh province.
The images below show the “before and after” from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.
Although river levels were extremely high, the flow rate in cubic feet per second (cusecs) were lower than previous flood events, as shown in the table below with data from PMD.
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Lessons learned from wide-scale flooding in 2010 and investment in Disaster Risk Reduction in Pakistan have and improved forecasting and early warning from the meteorological authorities. The chart below is from the Flood Forecasting Division of Pakistan Meteorological Department, showing ther predictions for flow of rivers next to actual figures.
The floods were caused by heavy rain from a slow moving area of monsoonal low pressure across northern India and Pakistan, which in turn increased river levels. The heavy rain began to fall in the first few days of September.
Rainfall Levels (according to WMO), 24 Hours between 03 and 04 September 2014
- Lahore 168.9 mm
- Sialkot 182.9 mm
- Faisalabad 82.9 mm
- Jhelum 78.1 mm
The rain continued for several days. The table below shows how much rain fell for the whole of the month in several locations in Punjab and Azad Kashmir.
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