Sindh regions put on high alert due to flood; 15 mn affected



Sindh regions put on high alert due to flood; 15 mn affected Karachi: Flood hit Sindh province was on Saturday put on high alert as Pakistan braced for worst deluge in 80 years with the Indus river in spate, even as about 15 million people have been affected by it all over the country.

Heavy monsoon rains exacerbated the situation in northern regions already devastated by the flood situation, killing over 40 people.

The Indus river was in spate in Sindh, with flows of 1,080,000 cusecs and 980,000 cusecs recorded at the Guddu Barrage and Sukkur Barrage, respectively.

Meanwhile, authorities raced to evacuate families threatened with fresh floods as heavy rains worsened the disaster in its second week, with up to 15 million people already affected.

The Meteorological Department declared all areas on the banks of the Indus in Sindh dangerous. Soldiers were deployed with machinery to repair a bund near Kashmore that was damaged by the gushing torrents of water.

Authorities in four districts of Sindh were on high alert and over a million people have already been evacuated in the province. The level of the Indus and other rivers rose in the Northern Areas following fresh rains.

About 47 people were feared killed and dozens more were missing following flash floods in Skardu district.

Several injured persons were airlifted to hospital by helicopters.

In Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the level of the Neelum and Jhelum rivers rose after heavy rains over the past two days and authorities issued a flood warning to people living along the banks of both rivers.

National Disaster Management Authority chief Nadeem Ahmed has said 12 million people have been affected by the floods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces and other officials said at least two million more were affected in Sindh.

The total figure is much higher than the UN?s earlier estimate of 4.5 million. Officials have said that over 1,600 people have died in rain-related incidents and floods across the country.

Over 1.4 million acres of crop land have been inundated and more than 10,000 heads of cattle washed away.

Officials have estimated the cost of repairing roads, dams and power infrastructure in the northwest alone at s 7.5 billion.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which has borne the brunt of the country's worst floods since 1929, intermittent showers lashed people living in camps who complained they had been without aid for over a week.

The bad weather in the northwest affected helicopter flights ferrying relief materials to Swat and Shangla districts.

Aid workers reported food shortages in many flood-hit areas in the northwest, where victims were surviving on food provided by local NGOs and groups like the Falah-e-Insaniyat, a front for the Jamaat-ud-Dawah.

Officials warned the northwest could again be hit by flash floods during the next 24 to 36 hours due to an expected rise in the level of the Kabul river and its tributaries in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Disaster management authorities issued a fresh warning asking people to be alert for any eventuality and directing district administrations to be on alert.

In Punjab's Rajanpur districts, flood waters threatened Rojhan town after devastating Jampur. With people having abandoned their homes in Jampur, there were reports of gangs looting shops and houses.

Supplies from the Pakistan State Oil depot in Punjab to other parts of the country was halted because of the floods. The closure of two key power plants in Punjab deprived the power grid of 1,600 MW.

An area of about 40 sq km from Mahmood Kot to Kot Addu and Daira Din Pannah resembled a lake.

"We don't know if anybody is stranded in Sanwan, Kot Addu and Gurmani because we can't go there," said irrigation official Nazar Husain. About 450,000 people were displaced in Kot Addu while over 700,000 people had become homeless in Muzaffargarh.

The military, which has deployed over 40,000 soldiers and sailors for relief operations, continued evacuating people in flood-hit areas of Punjab and Sindh.

The army has also set up dozens of relief camps in areas affected by the deluge. Foreign countries and the UN have pledged millions of dollars to help reconstruction efforts and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appealed for international aid during a televised address to the nation after visiting flooded areas.

"Pakistan has been hit by the worst floods of its history. At this time of crisis I would like to appeal to the international community to support Pakistan to help alleviate the suffering of the flood-affected people," he said.

PTI