The evacuation orders covered large parts of the eastern Punjab region along the Sutlej River where flooding has been recorded in the last three weeks, officials said on Wednesday.
Sutlej river swelled to “extremely high levels” on Saturday, at one point expanding around 4km wider, more than the Indus river, data showed.
The swelling of the river inundated several districts, prompting more rescue operations in recent days.
Most of the evacuations were reported in the districts of Bahawalpur and Kasur in Punjab province.
Small-scale evacuations had already begun in July after neighbouring India diverted water from dams into the Ravi River, which flows from India into Pakistan.
Later rainfall also flooded the Sutlej river, prompting authorities to evacuate people living nearby.
This is massive flooding — the #Sutlej has gone KMs wider in just 4 days, even wider than the Indus, and much of the border between #Pakistan & #India south of #Lahore division is under water. These flows come from the huge floods caused by Monsoon rains in Northern India. https://t.co/r8AfIGS4tr pic.twitter.com/eJEuJk8VfS
— Dawar Butt (@theLahorewala) August 19, 2023
The national disaster management agency said water levels in the Ravi river are currently normal, but will rise further in the Sutlej river this week.
Flooding in the Sutlej River affected seven districts: Kasur, Okara, Bahawalpur, Pakpathan, Vehari, Bahawalnagar, and Lodhra.
According to NDMA,
Over 238,000 people and 17,000 livestock have been evacuated, & farmland and crops have been submerged.#PunjabFloods pic.twitter.com/e18ozgaxtg
— OCHA Pakistan (@OCHAPakistan) August 22, 2023
The water inundated roads and also threatened several government buildings in Hussainiwala city, including the National Martyrs Memorial.
Flood water enters the parts of National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala near Pakistan border, its here busts of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev have been erected pic.twitter.com/RQkWx6IbLr
— Neel Kamal (@NeelkamalTOI) August 20, 2023
This year, once again Pakistan has been struggling with flooding in low-lying areas due to heavy rainfall that has killed over 170 people since June.
The rainfall has also sparked catastrophes in neighbouring India, including flooding in national capital Delhi and landslides in the hilly regions of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
South Asia receives 70-80 per cent of its yearly rainfall in the three-month monsoon season starting in June. However, various scientific assessments have found that increasing global temperatures due to the man-made climate crisis are making rainfall more intense and erratic, leading to more flooding.
Other factors, such as infrastructural vulnerabilities, also make the region highly prone to the increased impact of the disaster.
Pakistani authorities are still struggling to overcome the damage caused by massive floods last summer that affected 33 million people and killed 1,739. The floods caused $30bn in damage to the country’s economy.