Sukkur: About 150,000 Pakistanis were forced to move to higher ground as floodwaters from a freshly swollen Indus River submerged dozens more towns and villages in the south, a government spokesman said on Saturday.
Officials expect the floodwaters nationwide will recede in the next few days as the last river torrents empty into the Arabian Sea. Survivors may find little left when the return home, however: The waters have washed away houses, roads, bridges and crops vital to livelihoods.
Already, 600,000 people were in relief camps set up in Sindh province during the flooding over the past month.
As the latest surge approached, "We evacuated more than 150,000 people from interior parts of Sindh in the past 24 hours," said Jamil Soomro, a spokesman for the provincial government.
The fresh floods swarmed new areas in Thatta district. In the Sukkur area, authorities set up 126 camps to house flood evacuees, Soomro said.
The floods have affected about one-fifth of Pakistan`s territory, straining its civilian government as it also struggles against al Qaeda and Taliban violence. At least six million people have been made homeless and 20 million affected overall. The economic cost is expected to run into the billions.
The United Nations has appealed for USD 460 million in emergency assistance, and the US has promised USD 150 million. Pakistan said it would even accept USD 5 million in aid from India, its archrival.
The floods began on July 29 in the northwest of the country after exceptionally heavy monsoon rains, expanding rivers that have since swamped eastern Punjab province and Sindh province in the south.
A slew of aid groups have been trying to help the government in its relief effort by providing food, medicine, shelter and other crucial assistance. Poor weather and the destruction of roads and bridges have hindered the distribution of the items.