After weeks of extreme monsoon rains, Pakistan’s largest freshwater lake started overflowing in early September, putting tens of thousands of people at risk of losing their homes, new satellite images reveal.
The images, captured by NASA’s Landsat 8 and Landsat 9 satellites, show breaches in the banks of Lake Manchar, some of which have been made intentionally by local authorities to prevent the overfilled lake from spilling into densely populated areas in the Indus River Valley.
The images show the pre-flood situation on July 25 and then detail the growing extent of the flooding on Aug. 28 and Sept. 5.
Some 100,000 people living in several hundred villages scattered across the valley are at risk of flooding due to the breaches, NASA officials wrote in a statement (opens in new tab). The floods, described as Pakistan’s worst in at least a decade, have killed more than 1,300 people and injured thousands more. Over 1 million homes have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people are currently displaced.
Pakistan’s Sindh province, where Lake Manchar is located, is one of the most severely affected by the flooding. The area has already received five times its average annual rainfall this year, NASA said in the statement. More rain is likely in the coming days, according to the U.K. weather forecaster Met Office.
The government of Pakistan declared a national emergency on Aug. 30, asking for international support to deliver food, drinking water and health supplies and assistance to the affected communities.