Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to thank him for aid sent by Türkiye and to seek further help on reconstruction work in the flood-hit areas.

A government statement said Sharif briefed Erdogan about the government's relief activities and sought assistance from Türkiye in overcoming the “food shortage.
A government statement said Sharif briefed Erdogan about the government's relief activities and sought assistance from Türkiye in overcoming the “food shortage." (AA)

Pakistan is grappling with food shortages after deadly floods left the impoverished country's agriculture belt underwater, the prime minister has told the Turkish president by phone.

Shehbaz Sharif spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to thank Türkiye for dispatching food, tents and medicine by 12 military aircraft, four trains and Turkish Red Crescent trucks.

A government statement said Sharif briefed Erdogan about the government's relief activities and sought assistance from Türkiye in overcoming the “food shortage." 

Sharif also sought help from Türkiye on reconstruction work in the flood-hit areas.

The International Rescue Committee estimated that the floods have damaged more than 3.6 million acres of crops in Pakistan.

More than 660,000 people, including women and children, are living at relief camps and in makeshift homes after floods damaged their homes across the country and forced them to move to safer places. 

Pakistan, the country's military, UN agencies and local charities are providing food to these flood victims.

Pakistan heavily relies on its agriculture and occasionally exports its surplus wheat to Afghanistan and other countries. Now it is in talks to import badly needed wheat and vegetables, including to people not directly affected by floods.

READ MORE: Fresh displacement triggered by flooding in southern Pakistan

Damage far greater than estimates

Until last week, floodwater was covering around a third of Pakistan, including the country's agriculture belt in eastern Punjab and southern Sundh provinces which are the main food basket.

Initially, Pakistan said the floods caused $10 billion in damages, but authorities say the damages are far greater than the initial estimates.

That's forced Pakistan and the United Nations to urge the international community to send more help.

In response, UN agencies and various countries, including the United States, have sent more than 60 planeloads of aid. Since last week, Washington has sent three military planes to deliver food.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said at a news conference Monday that Pakistani authorities and international aid agencies are assessing the flood damage that has affected 33 million people. 

He said the government would proceed with transparency in the distribution of aid.

READ MORE: UN chief: Never seen climate carnage like Pakistan floods

Source: AP