Update: Via CNN,
So, a "fifth underwater" is an official Pakistan statement! But NASA says different. However, contrary to my expectation, it turns out much of Pakistan is flat terrain. So maybe it depends how you count. Maybe the satellite doesn't see puddles, which nevertheless may be enough to damage crops.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Saturday that as many as 20 million of his countrymen have been affected by the flooding. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum put the number at 14 million on Monday.
The death toll from the flooding that's raged more than a fortnight is up to 1,463, and more than 2,000 people have been injured, the National Disaster Management Authority said Sunday.
With about one-fifth of the country underwater, almost 900,000 homes had been damaged, the agency said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday that while he has visited sites of natural disasters around the world, he has never seen anything like the devastation created by flooding in Pakistan. He said the disaster is worse than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2005 Pakistani earthquake combined.
It's hard for me to reconcile 900,000 homes damaged in a country of 120,000,000 with 20% by area "under water". If the homes were evenly distributed that would be 25 people per home; if the homes were preferentially in the flooded area that would be more. Normally if you had a building "under water" you'd expect some damage.
I still doubt it. If we had a better press they would be showing us pictures of typical conditions in low lying areas, as well as worst conditions.