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Pakistan flooding toll climbs past 800

Pakistani villagers carry their belongings as they wade through deep water in Qasim Bella, on the outskirts of Multan, Pakistan, on Saturday.  (Associated Press)
Pakistani villagers carry their belongings as they wade through deep water in Qasim Bella, on the outskirts of Multan, Pakistan, on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Record-breaking rainfall has affected 1 million nationwide

NOWSHERA, Pakistan – Flooding in Pakistan has killed more than 800 people in a week, a government official said Saturday as rescuers struggled to reach marooned victims and some evacuees showed signs of fever, diarrhea and other waterborne diseases.

In neighboring eastern Afghanistan, floods have killed 64 people and injured 61 others in the past week, while destroying hundreds of homes and huge stretches of farmland, an Afghan official said.

In Pakistan, the flooding caused by record-breaking rainfalls caused massive destruction, especially in the northwest province, where officials said it was the worst deluge since 1929. The U.N. estimated Saturday that some 1 million people nationwide were affected by the disaster, though it didn’t specify exactly what that meant.

The information minister for Pakistan’s northwest province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, said reports coming in from various districts across the northwest showed that more than 800 people had died due to the flooding. Many people remain missing.

Floodwaters were receding in the northwest, Pakistani officials said, but fresh rains were expected to lash other parts of the country in the coming days.

In the Nowshera area in the northwest, scores of men, women and children sat on roofs in hopes of air or boat rescues.

“There are very bad conditions,” said Amjad Ali, a rescue worker in the area. “They have no water, no food.”

A doctor treating evacuees at a small relief camp in Nowshera said some had diarrhea and others had marks appearing on their skin, causing itching. Children and the elderly seemed to have the most problems, Mehmood Jaa said.

“Due to the floodwater, they now have pain in their bodies and they are suffering from fever and cough,” Jaa said.

In eastern Afghanistan, floods destroyed about 800 homes and hundreds of acres of farmland, damaged hydropower dams and partially destroyed more than 500 other houses, according to Matin Edrak, director of the Afghan government’s disaster department.

Most of the flooding was in eight provinces, including Kabul, he said.

The Afghan government is distributing $2,000 in compensation to the families of each victim and is providing shelter, blankets, food and other aid to flooding victims.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, rescuers were using army helicopters, heavy trucks and boats to try reaching flood-hit areas, the U.N. said. It reported that thousands of homes and roads were destroyed, and at least 45 bridges across the northwest were damaged.

The destruction is slowing the rescue effort, said Lutfur Rehman, a government official in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, the northwest province.

“Our priority is to transport flood-affected people to safer places. We are carrying out this rescue operation despite limited resources,” he said.


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