South Asia

Pakistan flood warning 'not passed on'

Flooding in Pakistan
Image caption The monsoon floods affected 20 million people

A study has suggested that the effects of last year's floods in Pakistan could have been less catastrophic if European weather forecasts had been shared with Pakistan.

The American Geophysical Union said the forecasts could have given up to 10 days' advance warning of the floods.

The study said this could have allowed the authorities in northern Pakistan to take preventative measures.

The monsoon floods affected 20 million people and one fifth of the country.

At least 1,500 people died in the deluge.

The American Geophysical Union said the information did not reach Pakistan because of a "lack of cooperation between the forecasting centre and Pakistan".

Pakistan's own weather agency also did not forecast the floods, the organisation added.

"This disaster could have been minimised and even the flooding could have been minimised," said Peter Webster, a professor of earth and atmospheric science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and lead writer of the study.

"If we were working with Pakistan, they would have known eight to 10 days in advance that the floods were coming."

The study, which used data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), found that the floods could have been predicted if the data had "been processed and fed into a hydrological model, which takes terrain into account".

The London-based ECMWF, however, said it did not "give out weather forecasts and weather warnings to the general public or media".

ECMWF scientist Anna Ghelli was quoted as saying that the organising provided forecasts to its members and co-operating states and "they are responsible to prepare forecasts for the public and advise the authorities in their own countries".

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