Over 800 people killed in flash floods in Pak

Last Updated: Sunday, August 1, 2010 - 00:07

Islamabad/Peshawar: More than 800 people
have died and at least one million affected by flash floods
triggered by the worst monsoon rains in Pakistan in eight
decades, officials and the UN said on Saturday.

The death toll in the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
province alone has risen above 800, said provincial
Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

Reports of deaths had come in from several districts
in the northwest, which was worst hit by rains and floods this
past week. Over 100 people were missing and more than 26,000
were stranded, Hussain said.

Some 50 deaths were reported in Punjab province while
over 30 people have died in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,
officials said.

At least one million people in the northwest have been
affected by the worst monsoon since 1929, the UN Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Torrential rains had breached flood defences and
caused many rivers to burst their banks. Various areas in
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, including Peshawar, Charsadda and
Nowshera, were affected by flooding for the fifth day today.

Provincial capital Peshawar, which has a population of
about three million, has been cut off for the past three days.
Some 200 Chinese nationals working on a hydropower
project were trapped in Kohistan district.

People continued to flee the inundated areas in trucks
and makeshift boats. Rescuers were struggling to reach
inundated areas where flooded rivers have swept away roads and
bridges and snapped communication links.

Geo News channel aired dramatic footage of riverside
houses and hotels being swept away by the swollen Swat river
in the Kalam area. Reports from the region said over 300
houses had been destroyed by the rains and flooding.

In Punjab, about 3,000 people were stranded in Taunsa
Sharif due to floods. Over 100 villages have been flooded in
Mianwali.

An emergency was declared in Dera Ghazi Khan,
Bhakkar, Muzaffarghar and Rajanpur as they could be affected
when inflows of up to 900,000 cusecs cross the Taunsa Barrage
during August 1-3, officials said.

The Kohlu, Nasirabad, Jhal Magsi and Barkhan areas of
Balochistan too were affected by floods.

Many people made homeless were living in the open and
officials feared they could be affected by the outbreak of
water-borne diseases.

The deluge also submerged millions of acres of
agricultural land.

Though floodwaters were receding in the northwest
today, officials said rescuers were facing problems reaching
affected people because of damage to roads and bridges.

The UN said the extent of the damage could only be
ascertained after the floodwaters receded and the immediate
priority is providing shelter, healthcare, drinking water and
food to the affected people.

UN officials said they were also concerned that
swollen rivers flowing south would carry the floods to Sindh
province, where heavy rain has been forecast in the next few
days.

The Pakistan Army said all available troops have been
mobilised for relief operations. Seventeen helicopters and
over 50 boats were being used for relief work and to transport
affected people to safer areas.

Over 14,000 people have been rescued by the troops so
far. Helicopters had dropped 50 tonnes of rations and 5,000
food packets in flood-hit areas, the army said.

Military engineers are working to reopen roads and
repair bridges, it said.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, August 1, 2010 - 00:07

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