Pakistanis use stones, sandbags to stave off flood

At least six million people have been made homeless in the wake of floods.

Hyderabad: Workers placed sandbags and stones to strengthen river levees in flood-ravaged Pakistan`s south as the rising water threatened new areas on Sunday.

Three towns in the Thatta district were in danger, and officials began evacuating around 150,000 people from lower lying areas on Saturday. The surge in the Indus River is expected to empty into the Arabian Sea after passing through.

At least two levees along the river are potential trouble spots and are being strengthened, said Hadi Bakhsh Kalhoro, an official with the Sindh province Disaster Management Authority.

"We are hopeful the flood will pass on to the delta without creating much trouble here," he said.

The floods began in late July in the northwest after exceptionally heavy monsoon rains, expanding rivers that have since swamped eastern Punjab province and Sindh province in the south.

The deluge has affected about one-fifth of Pakistan`s territory, straining the 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 United Nations has appealed for USD 460 million in emergency assistance, and expects to achieve that goal as the scope and scale of the disaster has become more apparent. The US has promised USD 150 million.

Pakistan can ill-afford the crisis. Its economy was already being kept afloat by billions in loans from the International Monetary Fund, and the cost of rebuilding after the floods will likely run into the billions.

The IMF said it would meet with Pakistani officials this week to discuss the floods and what the country must do to cope.

"The IMF stands with Pakistan at this difficult time and will do its part to help the country," said the IMF`s Masood Ahmed, director of the Middle East and Central Asia department.

Bureau Report

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