Death toll rises to 1,100; more than 27,000 trapped
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – The death toll from massive floods in northwestern Pakistan rose to 1,100 Sunday as rescue workers struggled to save more than 27,000 people still trapped by the raging water.
The rescue effort was aided by a slackening of the monsoon rains that have caused the worst flooding in decades in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province. But as floodwaters started to recede, authorities began to understand the full scale of the disaster.
“Aerial monitoring is being conducted, and it has shown that whole villages have washed away, animals have drowned and grain storages have washed away,” said Latifur Rehman, spokesman for the Provincial Disaster Management Authority. “The destruction is massive.”
The U.N. estimates the flooding has affected 1 million people nationwide.
The United States announced Sunday that it would provide Pakistan with $10 million in humanitarian assistance, a high-profile gesture at a time when the Obama administration is trying to dampen anti-American sentiment in the country.
The 1,100 death toll from the flooding could go even higher since rescue workers have been unable to access certain areas, said Adnan Khan, a disaster management official.
The districts of Swat and Shangla have also been hit hard and have suffered more than 400 deaths, said Mujahid Khan, the head of rescue services for the Edhi Foundation, a private charity.
Residents of Swat were still trying to recover from a major battle between the army and the Taliban last spring that caused widespread destruction and drove some 2 million people from their homes. About 1 million of those were still displaced.
In Swat alone, the floods have destroyed more than 14,600 houses and 22 schools, Khan said.
Authorities have deployed 43 military helicopters and more than 100 boats to try to rescue some 27,300 people still trapped by the floods, Rehman said.
The flooding has also affected the central Pakistani province of Punjab, where troops rescued more than 1,400 people trapped by rising water, said Brig. Ahmad Waqas.