Floods surges into Pak`s Sindh province; 3 lakh evacuated

Pakistan`s worst floods in 80 years surged into southern Sindh province on Thursday amidst criticism over failing to provide speedy relief to the 4.5 million people affected by the deluge.

Last Updated: Aug 05, 2010, 20:38 PM IST

Karachi: Pakistan`s worst floods in 80
years surged into southern Sindh province on Thursday amidst
criticism over failing to provide speedy relief to the 4.5
million people affected by the deluge, even as about 300,000
have been evacuated along the swollen Indus river.

After causing widespread devastation in the north
western and central parts of Pakistan, the floods entered
Sindh. Officials said a flow of 780,000 cusecs of water had
been recorded at the Guddu Barrage and the level is expected
to rise to 900,000 cusecs soon.

Flood waters also entered Ghotki and Kashmore
districts in Sindh and were rising, officials said.

Army and navy units are already on high alert in
these areas to carry out rescue and relief operations and over
300,000 people have been evacuated from areas near the Indus
river basin.

The number of people affected by floods across the
country today rose to an estimated 4.5 million, officials at
the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in
Islamabad said.

Over 1,500 people have been killed by the floods,
which also washed away livestock and inundated thousands of
acres of crops.

The floods in Punjab and Sindh were slightly
exacerbated by continuing monsoon rains. Though floods abated
in Mianwanli, Bhakkar and Layyah districts, conditions were
worse in Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh districts, said
Punjab Relief Commissioner Ikhlaq Ahmad Tarar.

"Around 90 people have died due to the rains and
floods. Some 1.4 million people have been displaced in
Punjab," Tarar said. A total of 1.42 million acres of crops
and nearly 1,350 villages have been destroyed in flood-
affected areas of Punjab.

The embankment of a canal broke at Mithan Kot and
flood waters entered the city. The evacuation of people had
begun and the administration had directed the residents of
low-lying areas to move to safer places.

Authorities had also issued a warning at Chachara
Sharif in Rajanpur as there was heavy pressure of water at an
embankment, Tarar said.

In the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province,
which has borne the brunt of Pakistan`s worst floods since
1929, the level of most rivers began receding today, giving a
fillip to relief activities.

A spokesman for the Provincial Disaster Management
Authority said that the level of all rivers except the
Kabul river and the Indus river was normal.

A Saudi government plane carrying quilts, blankets and
other relief materials landed at Peshawar airport and Saudi
authorities pledged more aid would be sent in the days to
come.

Though authorities stepped up efforts to get food,
water and relief to the flood-hit areas in the northwest,
victims complained that the government had done little to
address their woes in the aftermath of the unprecedented
monsoon rains and floods.

Rescue workers returning from the northwest said many
roads and bridges had been washed away, affecting efforts to
get relief to victims. Hundreds of dead animals, including
cattle, were yet to be removed and the carcasses had begun
rotting.

The UN World Food Programme said 80 per cent of food
reserves had been destroyed and 1.8 million people were in
urgent need of food in the northwest. Other aid organisations
said many communities were drinking contaminated water, making
them vulnerable to diseases like diarrhoea.

Though flood waters receded in Punjab, many displaced
people continued to live in the open as the government had not
set up adequate relief camps.

The gaps in the government`s relief delivery systems
were filled in by hundreds of workers of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah,
who have fanned out in flood-hit areas to provide cooked meals
and medical aid. The JuD, banned by the UN Security Council
for being a front for the Lashker-e-Taiba, is operating the
banner of the Falah-e-Insaniyat in the flood affected areas.

There was also criticism of the unpopular President
Asif Ali Zardari for going ahead with his visit to Britain
despite calls from political leaders, including main
opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, to return to Pakistan to
lead the flood relief efforts.

PTI