Pakistan's Worst Natural Disaster in History Affects 13.8 Million

Thousands of people fled a major city in central Pakistan as authorities warned that swollen rivers could soon submerge the area, making them victims of the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.

The UN, relying on Pakistani figures, said the number of people affected by flooding over the past two weeks was now 13.8 million - more than the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, although the death toll in each of those disasters was much higher than the 1,500 people killed in the floods, The Press Association says.

“The flood and the devastation caused a very huge human catastrophe,” Safder Hussain Mehkri, a vice chairman of the Rice Exporters’ Association of Pakistan, said by phone today. “We need to rebuild the lives of these people.”

The flooding is “Pakistan’s worst national disaster,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in a televised speech yesterday. On a tour of Sindh and Punjab, the country’s most populous provinces and its biggest agricultural zone, Gilani told reporters that the destruction of roads, bridges and towns has set Pakistan’s economic development back by years, Bloomberg informs.

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