A dramatic video of the rescue of a boy standing amid a raging river in northern Pakistan has gone viral on social media as almost one-third of the country faces historic floods in what is being dubbed as a major “climate catastrophe” by the government.
The video shared by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media and PR wing of the Pakistan army, shows the boy standing on a rock in the middle of an overflowing river as a rescue worker in a military helicopter tries to reach out to him.
The boy stretches his arms, barely balancing on the rock, as the helicopter inches slightly lower with the rescue worker struggling to reach him.
Eventually, the boy is able to grip the rails of the aircraft and pull himself up to safety.
The frightening video is from one of the thousands of rescue operations Pakistan’s military is carrying out as large swathes of land remained underwater in the country following the unrelenting floods of the past week.
Up to 200,000 people are stranded in Pakistan’s remote Swat Valley as heavy rains turned rivers into raging torrents.
Nearly 300 stranded people, including some tourists, were airlifted in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, a state-run disaster management agency said in a statement, while over 50,000 people were moved to two government shelters in the northwest.
In several places, rescue workers were struggling to reach the stranded since they couldn’t find any dry area to land on as one-third of the country is “literally underwater”, according to climate minister Sherry Rahman.
#PakistanFloods | Over 33 million people have been impacted by the monsoon floods in #Pakistan, and nearly one-third of the country is underwater.
Amid the critical situation, a helicopter was used to airlift a boy struggling to fight the force of the floodwater. #DisasterRelief pic.twitter.com/9QAThfxXTE
— The Weather Channel India (@weatherindia) August 30, 2022
In large parts, roads, bridges, tracks and other key infrastructure has been devastated in this year’s flooding which is believed to be one of the worst Pakistan has faced.
According to initial government estimates, the devastation caused $10 billion in damage to the economy.
“It is a preliminary estimate likely to be far greater,” planning minister Ahsan Iqbal told The Associated Press. More than 243 bridges and more than 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles) of road have been damaged.
The army helicopters are plucking victims and dropping them to nearby shelter camps but with 15 per cent of the 220 million population impacted, there aren’t enough resources and several roads have been surrounded by temporary tents set up for the displaced.
The population is displaced and the only higher ground, safer ground is the road network…please note these are all self made shelters ano tents. Sanghar district got about 5000 tents & they need at least 45000 so far. The scale of things is just enormous. #PakistanFloods pic.twitter.com/y3fuklMpml
— Fakhr-e-Alam (@falamb3) August 27, 2022
“Life is very painful here,” 63-year-old villager Hussain Sadiq, who was at one of the shelters with his parents and five children, told Reuters, adding that his family had “lost everything.”
Mr Hussain said medical assistance was insufficient, and diarrhoea and fever are common at the shelter.
Additional reporting by agencies