Canada issues travel warning for Pakistan amid heavy flooding: ‘Be very cautious’ – National

The Government of Canada issued a fresh travel notice for citizens travelling to Pakistan on Saturday as heavy flooding triggered by monsoon rains continues to unleash havoc across much of the South Asian country.

“There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media, and follow the instructions of local authorities,” the government said on its website.

Travellers are being advised to “exercise a high degree of caution.”

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As of Saturday, Pakistani officials said the floods have killed nearly 1,000 people and injured or displaced thousands more since mid-June.

The new death toll came a day after Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif asked for international help in battling deadly flood damage in the impoverished Islamic nation.

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According to the government of Canada’s travel notice, there has been damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure that has caused essential services in Pakistan to be disrupted. These include transportation, water and food supply, telecommunications networks, emergency services, and medical care.

Canada is advising travellers to stay away from the affected areas, including parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (PK), Sindh and Balochistan, as well as to monitor local news and weather reports and to follow the instructions of local authorities.

The monsoon season, which began in June, has lashed Pakistan with particularly heavy rains this year and rescuers have struggled to evacuate thousands of marooned people from flood-hit areas. The crisis has forced the government to declare a state of emergency.

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In northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, flooding 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.

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“We preempted the situation and warned and forced hesitating residents to leave their homes for safety and move to relief camps established at government buildings in safe places,” she said.

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Safi said there was concern of further rising of the Swat and Kabul rivers, adding to the misery of residents who have already suffered the loss of lives and property.

In Nowshera district, local administrator Quratul Ain Wazir said flood waters submerged streets before the gushing waters headed toward low-lying areas.

“Our administration has evacuated many people and taken others to relief camps where government-provided beds and food are in safe buildings,” she said. “We will use police to force those hesitant to leave their homes.”

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Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb said soldiers and rescue organizations were helping people to reach safety in many districts of southern Sindh, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, eastern Punjab and southwestern Baluchistan provinces.

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“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.

Aurangzeb asked wealthy people and relief organizations to come forward with aid to help flood-affected Pakistanis.

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In response to Sharif’s appeal for international aid, the United Nations planned a $160 million flash appeal for donations, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar. He said in his weekly briefing Friday that the appeal will be launched Aug. 30.

Thousands whose homes were swept away now live in tents, miles away from their inundated villages and towns, after being rescued by soldiers, local disaster workers and volunteers, authorities said.

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The National Disaster Management Authority in its latest overnight report said 45 people were killed in flood-related incidents from Friday to Saturday.

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Monsoon rains were expected to continue this week, mainly in the south and southwest. The season usually runs from July to mid-September in Pakistan.

– With files from The Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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