Fresh showers worsen flood conditions; 1700 dead so far

Heavy monsoon showers hit the flood-hit regions of Pakistan, worsening the flooding and impeding relief operations, compounding a humanitarian crisis that has affected over 14 million people.

Islamabad: Heavy monsoon showers hit the
flood-hit regions of Pakistan today, worsening the flooding
and impeding relief operations, compounding a humanitarian
crisis that has affected over 14 million people across the
country and claimed nearly 1,700 lives so far.

Flood waters that have inundated the northwest and
central parts of the country raced southward into Sindh
province along the Indus river, which officials said was in
"exceptionally high flood".

Over 700 villages were flooded as water levels of
1,128,000 cusecs and 1,115,300 cusecs were recorded at the
Guddu Barrage and Sukkur Barrage respectively as authorities
struggled to cope with the impact of the worst deluge in 80

The protective bunds at Bachal Shah Mayani and Torhi
near Sukkur in northern Sindh were breached and several other
barrages and embankments were at risk.

Officials said they expected the situation to worsen
as heavy rains are forecast to continue in Sindh for the next
three days.

With more deaths reported from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and
Gilgit-Baltistan, the death toll has risen to nearly 1,700.

Tens of thousands of people in Sindh were fleeing the
floods but some people resisted evacuation as they feared
their homes would be looted.

"While comprehensive estimates are not yet available,
it is certain that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are
being affected in this province," said Dennis Bruhn, a UN
disaster management expert in Sindh.

Rivers in other parts of Pakistan too continued to be
in spate.

The Kabul river was in "very high flood" at Nowshera
in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while the Chenab river was in high flood
at Qadirabad in Punjab.

The continuing rains caused fresh flooding in Nowshera
in the northwest and bad weather grounded helicopter flights
for relief missions.

"Things will probably get worse before they start
getting better. We are working at full speed to respond to the
most urgent needs of the affected populations," said Martin
Mogwanja, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan.

The UN said it will be "nearly impossible" to access
some of the worst-hit areas for assessments and delivery of
aid until the waters recede.

"We are particularly concerned about the needs of
600,000 people who remain completely cut off in the north of
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa especially as no helicopter deliveries have
been possible for three days," said Wolfgang Herbinger,
Country Director of the World Food Programme.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who surveyed
flooded areas near Sukkur in Sindh by helicopter, appealed for
more international aid, saying the crisis had spiralled beyond
his government`s capacity.

"Whatever we can do within our resources we are doing
and will continue to do so. However, the losses are far too
stupendous," Gilani said.

Aid workers reported shortages of food, medicine and
drinking water.

The World Health Organisation warned that without
access to safe water, Pakistanis were at high risk of
contracting waterborne diseases like diarrhoea and cholera.

While the amount of funds required for relief
operations cannot be known until needs are assessed, the UN
said it expected the amount needed over the coming months will
be several hundreds of millions of dollars.

"With so much destruction to agricultural land and to
infrastructure, more hundreds of millions, if not billions,
will be required on the longer term to restore livelihoods and
services including the health system," said Ahmed Shaboul, the
WHO`s officer-in-charge for the country.

The floods are the worst witnessed in Pakistan since
1929. The province worst affected is Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where
an estimated 1.5 million people are homeless.

UN agencies have distributed health kits and
medicines and launched emergency services like restoration of
clean drinking water to check epidemics among people marooned
in flood-affected areas.

The health equipment includes cholera kits, emergency
kits, surgical supply kits and anti-snake venom.

There were also reports of protests by people who
complained that the government had failed to provide them
much-needed items like food and clean water.

At Jampur in Punjab, a large number of people
gathered outside government offices to protest.

They threw stones at officials and shouted slogans
against the government.


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