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Pakistan flood disaster imaged by NASA satellite

Courtesy: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR team

By James Dacey

The flooding in Pakistan triggered by heavy monsoon rains at the end of July has killed more than 1200 people and affected more than 15 million others across the country, according to government estimates. The country’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, said yesterday that it will take up to three years to recover from the natural disaster, as quoted by the Associated Press.

This pair of images shows the extent of the floodwaters within the central and southern parts of Pakistan, where the image on the left is from 8 August 2009 and the one on the right is from 11 August 2010. They have been captured by the Nadir (vertical viewing) camera on the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft, which was launched in 1999.

The Indus River can be seen meandering across the image from upper right to lower left. But in the later view, flooding can be seen clearly in much of the surrounding region, particularly in the Larkana District to the west of the river. Each image is 300 × 425 km and false colours have been employed to enhance the contrast: water appearing in shades of blue and cyan; vegetation as red; clouds as white; and sediment as tan.

Since this image was captured, the floodwaters have spread further south into the Sindh province, which lies in the bottom half of this image. The United Nations warned yesterday of thousands more imminent evacuations, along with the threat of waterborne diseases, food shortages and lack of shelter.

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