New images taken Aug. 28 by NASA’s MODIS satellite sensor show how a combination of heavy rain and an overflowing Indus River has flooded much of Sindh province in the south.
In the center of the photo, a large dark blue area shows the Indus overflowing and flooding an area about 100 kilometers (62 miles) wide, turning what were once agricultural fields into a giant inland lake.
It’s a shocking transformation from the image taken by the same satellite on the same date last year, which showed the river and its tributaries contained in what appear to be small, narrow strips by comparison, underscoring the extent of the damage in one of the country’s most the hard-hit areas.
This year’s monsoon is already the country’s wettest since records began in 1961, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, and the season is still a month away.
In both Sindh and Balochistan, rainfall was 500% above average, engulfing entire villages and farmland, destroying buildings and destroying crops.
Although mostly dry weather is expected in the region in the coming days, experts say the water will take days to recede.
“A flood of apocalyptic proportions”
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said he visited Sindh and saw firsthand how floods have displaced entire villages and towns.
“There is hardly any land that we can find. The scale of this tragedy… 33 million people, that’s more than the population of Sri Lanka or Australia,” he said.
“And while we understand that the new reality of climate change means more extreme weather or monsoons, more extreme heat waves like we saw earlier this year, the scale of the current flood is of apocalyptic proportions. We certainly hope this is not a new climate reality.”
Satellite images from Maxar Technologies from other areas of the country show how entire villages and hundreds of plots of green land have been destroyed by the fast-moving floods.
Images from Gudpur, a locality in Punjab, show how floods have damaged homes and replaced the land with winding paths of bare earth.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday to inspect the flood damage.
The province recorded most of the recent deaths after water levels rose exponentially, the country’s National Disaster Management Authority said.
Sharif said on Tuesday that the flooding was the “worst in Pakistan’s history” and international help was needed to deal with the scale of the devastation.
Additional reporting by CNN’s Rachel Ramirez, Angela Dewan and Jan Camenzind Brumby.