Stunning satellite images show before and after floods in Pakistan

At least 1,000,000 people were killed by the worst floods ever recorded in Pakistan.

NASA’s Earth Observatory released stunning images showing the before and after of Pakistan’s territory affected by floods caused by monsoon rains that overwhelmed the country.

Since mid-June 2022, Pakistan has suffered from extreme monsoon rains that caused the worst floods recorded in the country in a decade.

According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, the floods affected more than 33 million people and destroyed or damaged more than 1 million houses. At least 1,100 people were killed by the floods that inundated tens of thousands of square kilometers of the country, according to a NASA news release.

The “false color” images released by NASA were acquired by Operational Land Imagers installed on Landsat 8 and 9 satellites. The images combine shortwave infrared, near-infrared and red light to better distinguish floodwaters (deep blue) beyond their natural channels.

The worst flooding occurred along the Indus River in the provinces of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Sindh. So far this year, Balochistan and Sindh provinces have received five to six times the 30-year average rainfall. Most of it came in the summer monsoon rains.

Village swept by Pakistan's flood
Urban area swept by the floods – the streets are now canals

Across the country, the floods have destroyed 150 bridges and 3,500 kilometers of roads, according to ReliefWeb. More than 700,000 head of livestock and 2 million acres of crops and orchards have also been lost.

Another image acquired by Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 satellite on August 31, 2022, shows the extent of flooding in the region. The image combines visible and near-infrared light to make it easier to see where rivers are off their banks and spreading across floodplains.

Before and after Pakistan's floods near Qambar
Before and after Pakistan’s floods near Qambar

The immense volume of rainwater and snowmelt flooded the dams, reservoirs, and canals of the country’s extensive and highly developed irrigation system. On August 31, the Indus River System Authority authorized some dam releases because the flowing water threatened to exceed the capacity of several reservoirs.

The deluge has turned the plains into seas at the southern end of the Indus basin. These detailed images show Qambar and Shikarpur districts in Sindh province, which from July 1 to August 31, received 500 percent more rain than average.

Before and after the flood near Shikarpur, Pakistan
Before and after the flood near Shikarpur, Pakistan