x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE ambassador lays first stone for Swat River bridge

The UAE is rebuilding a bridge, to be named after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, over Pakistan's flood-hit Swat River.

The UAE has laid the foundation stone to rebuild a 40-year-old bridge over Pakistan's flood-hit Swat River.
The UAE has laid the foundation stone to rebuild a 40-year-old bridge over Pakistan's flood-hit Swat River.

A foundation stone was laid yesterday for a bridge the UAE is rebuilding over the Swat River in Pakistan, an area severely affected by flooding in August.

Ali al Awani, the UAE Ambassador to Pakistan, laid the first stone for the project to replace the original, 40-year-old bridge. The new one will be named after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan last August caused the worst flooding the country had seen in 80 years.

In September, the World Food Programme estimated that at least 14 million people were directly affected by the disaster and more than 1.1 million homes were destroyed. More than two million hectares of crops were also lost.

The Swat valley saw some of the worst damage, with floods destroying all bridges on a 140km stretch of the Swat River, between the towns of Chakdara and Kalam in northern Pakistan.

Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the High Commissioner for Pakistan in the UK, estimated that nearly 45 bridges and 5,000km of road were destroyed.

At the end of August, the UAE raised Dh72 million for the Pakistan relief effort through a three-day nationwide campaign organised by the Red Crescent Authority.

The UAE’s help in rebuilding the bridge is part of ongoing humanitarian efforts to help Arab and Islamic countries.

vtodorova@thenational.ae