Satellite view reveals scale of apocalyptic floods in Pakistan

More than a third of Pakistan is submerged in floodwaters after months of relentless rain, satellite observations show.

Life is not fair for Pakistanis, who suffer the most extreme consequences of climate change although it is only responsible for about 1% of global consumption greenhouse gas emissions.

Heavy monsoon rains have hit the Asian country since mid-June, exceeding 10 times the average rainfall values ​​for this part of the year, according (opens in a new tab) the European Space Agency (ESA), which released a new satellite image of the beleaguered country on Thursday (September 1)

Related: 10 devastating signs of climate change that satellites can see from space

The new image, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 satellite on Tuesday August 30, reveals the extent of the devastation in great detail: the Indus River has spilled far beyond its banks, creating a lake of more than 100 kilometers long. and over 6 miles (10 km) wide; large tracts of land in the west of the country, along the border with Afghanistan, under water; and streams of meltwater flowing along the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges.

The flood has so far claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people and affected 33 million of Pakistan’s population of 220 million, according to the ESA. The country’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, described the floods as the worst in Pakistan’s history, estimating that it would cost at least $10 billion to repair damaged infrastructure.

The Pakistani catastrophe is not a whim of nature. The rains were preceded by a heat wave in May, according to AlJazeera, which has exacerbated the melting of mountain glaciers, causing flooding and saturating the ground with moisture. While contributing only in a minor way to global greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan, where 22% of the population lives below the poverty line, is bearing the brunt of the progression of climate change. The same goes for neighboring Afghanistan, controlled since last year by the extremist Islamist movement Taliban.

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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