Pakistan race to save millions from floods

·2-min read

Millions of people are being evacuated from southern Pakistan as the region braces for another deluge, officials say, as the death toll surpassed 1200.

Thousands of troops, rescuers and volunteers were using boats and helicopters as part of rescue operations in the province of Sindh, regional government spokesman Murtaza Wahab said on Friday.

"It's a race against time," said Wahab, who is overseeing the evacuation.

Several towns in Sindh, the region hit hardest by flooding triggered by heavy monsoon rains starting in mid-June, were facing a fresh deluge on Friday.

Indus, the longest river in Pakistan which flows from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea in the south, once again burst its banks last week following heavy rains in the mountains.

Almost 20,000 cubic metres of water per second is now flowing downstream and will shortly reach major cities in Sindh, the disaster management agency said.

Television footage showed people stranded on rooftops waving to helicopters and rescue boats. Others were seen wading through waist-high water in search for dry ground.

"We are trying to reach people who are still in the middle of water without food and shelter," said Rustam Jamali, a rescuer from the Al-Khidmat charity.

At least a third of Pakistan - an area equal to the size of Britain - has been under water for weeks now, Climate Minister Sherry Rehman said.

She called floods a climate-induced catastrophe of epic proportion that has posed an existential threat to Pakistan.

Around 45 per cent of the country's agricultural land has been destroyed by the floods, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said, putting the total estimated losses at $US10 billion ($A14.7 billion).

In the north, where several towns still remain inundated a week after the last rains stopped, thousands are still without food and shelter.

"It feels like being refugees in our own villages. We can't go home a few hundred yards away," said Kamal Uddin Khan from the town of Swat.

The unprecedented floods in the South Asian country have followed at least three heatwave earlier in the summer, triggering forest fires at several locations and killing dozen of people.

"All this needs to be understood in the context of climate change and its impact on poor nations," environmentalist Qamar Zaman Chaudhry said.

Pakistan, a nuclear power with 220 million population, contributes less than 1 per cent of global carbon emissions, but is among the countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.