Pakistan Floods May Spread as Heat Harms Russia, U.S. Midwest

Pakistan’s deadliest floods that affected 13.8 million people may sweep through southern areas, increasing damage to crops and infrastructure. Extreme heat and smoke from wildfires forced people to flee Moscow.

In China, the death toll from a landslide that buried villages in the country’s west rose to at least 337, with a further 1,148 missing. Temperatures in the central U.S. are forecast to climb back to the 100-degree Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius) mark this week, and in many areas it will feel much hotter than that, according to the National Weather Service.

Floods in Pakistan have affected more people than those displaced in the 2005 Asian Tsunami and the deadly earthquakes in South Asia and Haiti combined, the United Nations said. The number of homes destroyed or seriously damaged is 290,000, it said. The U.N. will issue an appeal for several hundred million dollars of aid for Pakistan.

“The flood and the devastation caused a very huge human catastrophe,” Safder Hussain Mehkri, a vice chairman of the Rice Exporters’ Association of Pakistan, said by phone today. “We need to rebuild the lives of these people.”

The flooding is “Pakistan’s worst national disaster,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in a televised speech yesterday. On a tour of Sindh and Punjab, the country’s most populous provinces and its biggest agricultural zone, Gilani told reporters that the destruction of roads, bridges and towns has set Pakistan’s economic development back by years.

Heat, Smoke

In Russia, Moscow set a daily heat record of 35.5 degrees Celsius yesterday, the seventh such record this month and the 19th of the summer, according to the city’s weather service. The city reached 38.2 degrees Celsius, the highest ever, on July 29.

The heat and smoke caused the city’s death rate to increase to about 700 a day from 360 to 380 in normal conditions, Interfax reported, citing Andrei Seltsovsky, head of the city’s public health department. Carbon monoxide and particulate matter suspended in Moscow’s air is at least twice acceptable levels, Yelena Lezina, a spokeswoman for the state environmental monitoring agency, told Rossiya 24.

The nation’s worst drought in half a century has forced the government to declare states of emergency in 28-crop producing regions. Grain exports from the nation have been banned until the end of the year as crops wither, helping spur prices of wheat to a 23-month high on Aug. 6.

Climate Change

“Climate change is obviously the key input” influencing agricultural prices now, Jonathan Barratt, managing director at Commodity Broking Services Pty., said by phone from Sydney today. “The market is focusing on anything to do with bad weather.”

In the U.S. Midwest, excessive heat warnings were issued for nine states along the Mississippi River and a heat advisory covers parts of seven more, the weather service said yesterday. It’s the latest heat wave of a Northern Hemisphere summer that shattered records. The heat affecting Russia has gripped Ukraine and Belarus, where records were also set, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In China, more than 10,000 soldiers, police and firefighters are searching for survivors in Zhouqu county, located in an ethnic Tibetan prefecture of western China’s Gansu province after a landslide struck late Aug. 7, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Heavy rains are forecast for portions of southern Gansu today and tomorrow, the China Meteorological Administration said on its website. In addition to Gansu, downpours may also hit portions of the neighboring provinces of Ningxia, Shaanxi, Qinghai and Sichuan, the weather agency said.

Flooding caused by heavy rain has killed more than 1,450 people throughout China this year as of Aug. 6, the deadliest in more than a decade, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

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