International

In Pakistan's Punjab Province, Widespread Damage, Distress And Desperation

  • Floods have ravaged Pakistan's southern Punjab province, destroying homes, stranding people, and damaging more than 20 percent of its cotton crop.
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    Floods have ravaged Pakistan's southern Punjab province, destroying homes, stranding people, and damaging more than 20 percent of its cotton crop.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Tasleem Mai, 25, was washed out of her home near Muzaffargarh when the Indus River reached levels not seen in living memory. She now lives on the edge of the water-logged road with her four children. Most flood victims have not gone to camps, but are staying near their homes to ensure against theft.
    Hide caption
    Tasleem Mai, 25, was washed out of her home near Muzaffargarh when the Indus River reached levels not seen in living memory. She now lives on the edge of the water-logged road with her four children. Most flood victims have not gone to camps, but are staying near their homes to ensure against theft.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Haggard and hungry, villagers from Shahgar wait for food aid to arrive. Assistance has come mostly from private citizens who organize aid deliveries with their own trucks, money and meals.  Anger is rising against the government among people are who impoverished even in the best of time, but who have now lost everything.
    Hide caption
    Haggard and hungry, villagers from Shahgar wait for food aid to arrive. Assistance has come mostly from private citizens who organize aid deliveries with their own trucks, money and meals. Anger is rising against the government among people are who impoverished even in the best of time, but who have now lost everything.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Allah Yar Khan piled his family and all his belongings on the back of a truck in an attempt to return home.  Khan doesn't know what he'll find, but like thousands, he's braving dangerous roads where trucks routinely overturn.
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    Allah Yar Khan piled his family and all his belongings on the back of a truck in an attempt to return home. Khan doesn't know what he'll find, but like thousands, he's braving dangerous roads where trucks routinely overturn.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • An overturned truck is seen on the main Dera Ghazi Khan-Muzaffargarh Road. The flood waters from the Indus River have buried long stretches of the road. Although many villages are accessible by boat — they are in short supply, leading many to attempt the dangerous crossings in trucks, with deadly consequences.
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    An overturned truck is seen on the main Dera Ghazi Khan-Muzaffargarh Road. The flood waters from the Indus River have buried long stretches of the road. Although many villages are accessible by boat — they are in short supply, leading many to attempt the dangerous crossings in trucks, with deadly consequences.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Survivors wade through flood waters washing over the main road connecting the southern Punjab cities of Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh. Residents in the village of Bahawal Nala say that some 25 to 30 people have drowned trying to cross the main road that is now five feet under water.
    Hide caption
    Survivors wade through flood waters washing over the main road connecting the southern Punjab cities of Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh. Residents in the village of Bahawal Nala say that some 25 to 30 people have drowned trying to cross the main road that is now five feet under water.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Families rest from the heat in the village of Baseera. Curled up on  traditional "charpoys", people have been forced to take shelter under the sky as large parts of their village were submerged.
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    Families rest from the heat in the village of Baseera. Curled up on traditional "charpoys", people have been forced to take shelter under the sky as large parts of their village were submerged.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR

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NPR's Julie McCarthy is in southern Punjab province, one of the poorest parts of Pakistan. Floods have ravaged the region, destroying homes, stranding people, and damaging more than 20 percent of its cotton crop.

Earlier today, she sent us this photograph, along with a short missive:

The flooded roads of southern Punjab. We are now stuck mid-stream... The engine dead... Men pushing... Astonishing sunset.

In an interview with NPR's Robert Siegel, McCarthy said that it is almost impossible to travel around the province. As she tried to get near the Indus River, she saw hundreds of hungry, displaced persons — but not one truck from a non-governmental organization (NGO) or government aid agency.

According to McCarthy, "people are supremely dissatisfied and they seem dumbstruck at some level."

People just struck me as being in shock.

They really feel that they are poor, and they are being ignored. No one is listening to them. No one is coming to see them. No one is coming to help them.

Many residents of the region, fearing looting, decided to stay near their homes — many of which are mud huts, incapable of withstanding floods.

"They are in these pockets, in these islands that have removed them from their homes," she said. "So, they're living out in the blazing sun and the blazing heat by day, and by night they're under the stars, battling scorpions and hunger."

Large crowds are unsupervised. Displaced Pakistanis didn’t die in great numbers in the Southern Punjab at the flooding's onset.

But those who are braving makeshift boats and taking trucks over treacherous waters as they try to make their way back home are falling victim to drowning.

"It seems like one hardship is compounded on the other," McCarthy said.

Southern Punjab Province Pakistan

In Pakistan's flood-ravaged Punjab province, roads are impassable. Julie McCarthy/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Julie McCarthy/NPR

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