Disasters & Accidents

Pakistanis struggle to bury dead as floods submerge cemeteries

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Sep 30 (EFE).- Floods in Pakistan have submerged entire cities, including their cemeteries, making it a challenge for the locals to to find a dry place to bury their dead, with the number of victims of rain-related incidents going past 1,600.

With a population of over 300,000, the city of Khairpur Nathan Shah in the southern Sindh provinces continues to be cut off due to floodwaters.

The only way to access the city is through a boat, while power supply continues to be disrupted due to the flood, and nearly 95 percent of the population has taken refuge in other cities.

“The whole town has been under water. During the peak (of the floods) at some places the water was 3 meters high,” the assistant commissioner of the locality, Sona Khan Chandio, told EFE.

More than 60 percent of the city is still inundated.

“In some high-lying areas it has started drying up but one cannot bury their loved ones in the graveyards even now because they are wet and muddy,” Yaseen Abbasi, the additional commissioner for the Dadu district – which includes the affected city – told EFE.

The main cemeteries are situated in the low-lying areas worst affected by the floods.

Although authorities had issued an alert for evacuating the city, more than 5,000 people decided to stay back for the fear of their properties being robbed.

At least 35 people were killed by the rain and floods, while around one thousand were injured, local administrator Saeed Ahmed said.

“What the poor have with them is what they have earned throughout their lives, so they do not leave it behind even at the cost of their lives,” he told EFE.

Many families have set up camp on high roads, and travel by boat during the day to protect their belongings, before returning at night.

For burying their dead, the families have to first travel seven kilometers by boat, followed by a road journey, to reach the nearest cemetery in Dadu, around 43 kilometers away.

“My brother died in the evening and they charged me 8000 rupees (around $35) to carry his body on boat,” Abdullah Faiz, a resident of Khairpur Nathan Shah, told EFE.

Moreover, he had to walk in one-meter deep water to find the boat, as mobile services remain suspended in the area.

“It was a nightmare which I can never forget,” Faiz said.

The two main cemeteries of the city, which have 5000-6,000 graves, may have been completely destroyed by the floods.

“We still don’t know the condition of the graves as they are under water. May be they (the graveyards) are plain now like a cricket ground,” administrator Ahmed said.

The official warned that even though water had started to recede, people were dying due to water-borne disease, with the proliferation of mosquitoes aiding the spread of malaria and dengue.

“Around 30 people have died because of water-borne diseases in the city as of now,” Ahmed said.

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