Pakistan is a country of 187,343,000 (2011 est.) people. It has a lot of problems both internally and externally, from economic sector to defense sector, similarly Pakistan has also seen many worst natural disasters in its 64 year life. From the waters of the Arabian sea to the great heights of the Karakoram, all of the places between them have seen worst disasters.
Before the independence of Pakistan
Pakistan got independence from the British on August 14, 1947. The pre-1947 era also saw some disasters that wrecked havoc in western India (present-day Pakistan). Many cyclones were reported, but there estimated damage is unconfirmed. Following are those natural disasters, which have confirmed data regarding the number of deaths and damage;
1935 Balochistan Earthquake
At 3:02 am PST at Quetta, a powerful earthquake rocked the city and surrounding areas. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.7 and anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000 people died from the impact. This ranks as one of the deadliest earthquakes that hit South Asia. The natural disaster ranks as the 23rd most deadly earthquake worldwide to date. In the aftermath of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the experts cited the earthquake as being amongst the four deadliest earthquakes the South Asian region has seen; the others being the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, Pasni earthquake in 1945 and Kangra earthquake in 1905.
This earthquake is the worst natural disaster in Pre-Pakistan era.
1945 “Would-be-Pakistan” tsunami
On 28 November 1945 at 1:56 am (local time), a massive earthquake, off Pakistan’s Makran Coast generated a destructive tsunami in the Northern Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Its epicenter was at 24.5 N 63.0 E., in the northern Arabian Sea, about 100 km south of Karachi and about 87 km SSW of Churi (Balochistan), Pakistan. The earthquake was of 8.1 magnitude, major quake. A total of 4,000 people were killed.
Disasters in 20th century – After the independence
During the 20th century, Pakistan saw a great number of natural calamities. The disasters severely hit the back bone of the economy of Pakistan. During the year 1970,a major category-3 Cyclone Bhola devastated East Pakistan that left some 500,000 people dead. Bhola is the deadliest cyclone in the history of mankind. In 20th century, a number of cyclones also devastated the western Pakistan, along with earthquakes. Following is the list of natural disasters in Pakistan during the 20th century;
Cyclones that effect Pakistan lose much of their intensity by the time they reach country’s coastline. Following are the deadliest cyclones in Pakistan’s history, these cyclones caused fatalities greater than 100.
1965 Karachi cyclone
Not much is known about this cyclone but it is the deadliest tropical storm in the history of Pakistan as it caused 10,000 casualties in Karachi on 15 December.
Cyclone 2A 1999
This cyclone is the strongest and most intense cyclone in the history of Pakistan. A category 3 hurricane, it killed 6200 people in the country and made landfall in Shah Bandar at peak intensity on 20 May near Karachi city in Sindh province.
1993 Pak-Indo cyclone
A category 1 hurricane, it weakened over the sea near Sindh-Gujarat border due to high wind shear. However it caused massive rainfall and flooding in Karachi but Thatta and Badin districts were the worst affected where the cyclone killed 609 people and displaced some 200,000 others.
1964 Indus valley cyclone
It made landfall in Tharparkar and Hyderabad district in Sindh province in Pakistan on 12 June. However it caused a great loss of life and property in the province. It killed 450 people and left some 400,000 people homeless.
Pakistan along with other nations of Indian-Sub continent have seen a lot of flooding especially during the monsoon season,Pakistan has seen 9 major flooding since 1947. Following is the worst flooding during the 20th century;
1950 “Kala Salab” floods
Monsoon rain in 1950 killed an estimated 2,900 people across the country. Punjab Province, including the city of Lahore, was among the worst hit when the River Ravi flooded. Over 100,000 homes were destroyed, leaving around 900,000 people homeless. These floods were often called the Kala salab (Black flood).
It was considered the worst flooding in Pakistan since 1950, the monsoon rainfall caused massive floods that killed 1,000+ people and made some 13,000+ people homeless.
Worst Earthquake of 20th in Pakistan
During the 20th century, only minor earthquake occurred in Pakistan expect for one, which is as follows;
1974 Hunza Earthquake
This Earthquake was a magnitude of 6.2 and hit Hunza, Hazara and Swat districts of northern Pakistan on December 28, 1974. The quake had a shallow focal depth and was followed by numerous aftershocks. An official estimate of the number killed was 5,300 with approximately 17,000 injured. A total of 97,000 were reported affected by the tremor. Most of the destruction was centred around the village of Pattan, located about 100 miles north of the capital city of Islamabad. The village was almost completely destroyed. Landslides and rock falls contributed to the damage.
Post-Independence: Worst Natural Disasters in the 21st century
Up till now that is 2011, some of major disasters have occurred in Pakistan from 2005 Earthquake to 2010 floods. Following is the worst natural disasters in Pakistan from 2000 till 2011;
Drought is an on and off phenomena in Pakistan, drought mostly affect the southern parts of Pakistan when there is no precipitation in the country. Following is the worst drought in Pakistan;
Drought of 1998-2002
Though this drought started from 1998 but gained intensity in 2000 till early 2002. The drought of 1998-2002 is considered worst in 50 years in Pakistan. The drought started in 1997 as El-Nino developed, but the drought gained intensity in 1998 and reached its peak in 2000 till 2001 and thus gradually weakened in 2002. The extreme drought also affected much of India and Afghanistan. The World Bank warned that the drought would inevitably hit economic growth of Pakistan. Thus it denoted several hundred-million dollars to help Pakistan through its worsening drought.
Worst earthquakes in Pakistan
Many earthquakes occurred in Pakistan during the 21st century, but the worst was the Kashmir earthquake;
2005 Kashmir Earthquake
A 7.6-Richter scale quake struck the Kashmir region on the India-Pakistan border and parts of northwestern Pakistan on 8 October 2005. According to official figures, at least 73,000 people were killed and more than 3.3 million made homeless. Work even continues today to rebuild damaged infrastructure.
Less than four cyclones came close to Pakistan coast with cyclonic strength, following is the worst cyclone in Pakistan in 21st century;
It killed 200 people alone in Karachi city on 23 June due to heavy rainfall and intense windstorms of 70 mph. It made landfall near the towns of Ormara and Pasni in the Balochistan province on 26 June where it killed 300 people. Overall it killed 730 people and affected the lives of 2 million people in Pakistan making it the third deadliest cyclone in the history of the country.
Isolated floods occurred in Pakistan but in 2010 almost 20% land of Pakistan was sub-merged due to the worst flooding since 1950;
2010 Pakistan floods
2,000 people lost their lives in these floods in Pakistan and over 20 million affected. Pakistan had sought international help to cope with the catastrophe. Despite mass evacuations, there were fears the death toll will rise as flooding reached the southern province of Sindh and the risk of water-borne disease outbreaks increased in many areas. Still many people are living in camps after one year has passed by.
So many disasters!
The number of natural disasters have considerably increased in the 21st century in Pakistan as compared to 20th century, there have been more disasters in first 10 years of 21st century. The reason? the increase in population is the main problem that has led to increasing number of disasters. Whether a natural hazard such as a storm or a heat wave becomes a natural disaster depends not only on the intensity of the event, but also on the degree of physical and human devastation. When viewing disasters in relation to populations, analysts look at several factors, particularly the types of areas hit and the demographic groups affected. Better planning reduces the chances of severe disasters!