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    Jul 2010

    Default Diseases break out as flood toll mounts to 1,400

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    ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: The death toll from the country’s worst floods in living memory topped 1,400 on Sunday, as outbreak of water-borne disease emerged and penniless survivors sought refuge from the raging torrents.

    “The floods have killed more than 1,100 people in different parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and affected over 1.5 million,” Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Information Minister for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told.

    “This is the worst flood in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the country’s history,” said the minister. “At least 713 people died in Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda while the death toll in Shangla and Swat districts is over 300,” he added.

    A senior official at the provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) confirmed the toll. Massive devastation has been reported in Swat and Shangla, where link bridges and thousands of houses were washed away.

    Eleven members of the same family were killed when the roof of their houses collapsed in Kabal area of Dardial. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been the worst hit in the recent flooding, as 90 highways were damaged, 58 big thoroughfares were closed for traffic, while 104 people are still unaccounted for.

    Hundreds of survivors sought shelter in schools in Peshawar and in Muzaffarabad after escaping the floods with children on their backs. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has waived all provincial taxes, the Punjab lifted agricultural tax and Balochistan announced to write off all agri-*****, private news channel reported on Sunday.

    Similar devastation triggered by driving rains and subsequent flooding, is in full swing in the Punjab, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, where 494 people were killed, raising the overall death toll in the country.

    China, which has also been hit by severe flooding, announced a 10 million yuan (1.5 million dollar) donation, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which cited a government website.

    More than 300 people hit by floods rallied in Peshawar on Sunday, chanting slogans against the provincial government for not providing them with adequate shelter, reporter witnessed.

    “I had built a two-room house on the outskirts of Peshawar with my hard-earned money but I lost it in the floods,” said 53-year-old labourer Ejaz Khan, who joined the rally. “The government is not helping us... the school building where I sheltered is packed with people, with no adequate arrangement for food and medicine,” Khan told.

    Waseyullah, 33, said his two brothers had worked as labourers in Saudi Arabia for the money with which he had built the small furniture factory he lost in the floods. “I expect the provincial government to help me financially to rebuild this factory,” he added.

    More than 3,700 houses have been swept away by the floods in the country and the number of people made homeless is rising, said the KP information minister. “Our rescue teams are also trying to extricate some 1,500 tourists who are stranded in the Kalam and Behrain towns of Swat district,” he said.

    “We are also getting confirmation of reports about an outbreak of cholera in some areas of Swat,” Hussain added. The Army said it had sent boats and helicopters to rescue the stranded people and its engineers were trying to open more roads and divert swollen rivers.In Azad Kashmir, officials said Army helicopters had been urgently requested in the worst-hit Neelam valley.

    “It has been cut off from the rest of Kashmir and we still don’t know how many people were killed, injured and displaced there,” State Disaster Management Authority chief Farooq Niaz said.

    Manuel Bessler, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Assistance in Pakistan, said communications had broken down in areas across the northwest. “We have a planning figure of one million people affected directly by the floods,” he told.

    However, authorities said they had repaired a damaged portion of the Islamabad-Peshawar motorway to restore the northwest region’s road links with the rest of Pakistan. Disastrous flash floods trigged by torrential rains also badly affected over 0.2 million people in Barkhan, Kohlu, Sibi and Naseerabad districts.

    On Sunday, relief activities continued in affected areas, however, there is a dire need to take relief steps on war footing basis. Minister for Sports Mir Shahnawaz Marri has revealed that 10 villages of Kohlu had been completely washed away by flash floods, while 29 others were badly affected.

    According to a statement issued here on Sunday, he emphasised the need to issue six-month ration cards to affected people instead asking them to queue for getting food. According to sources of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, flash floods washed away hundreds of houses, schools, hospitals, link brigs and roads. Dozens of persons had lost their life in recent flash floods in Balochistan, sources maintained.

    Presently, thousands of people were sitting under open sky as their houses had been washed away.It was also learnt that due to lack of funds, district administrations had failed in providing relief to all affected people. Meanwhile, Pakistan Army contingents have been despatched to vulnerable areas of Sindh following a formal request from government of Sindh in view of the impending flood.

    Pakistan Air Force continued the relief operations on the fourth day in the flood affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkwa. C-130 aircraft have transported more than 500 stranded people, including six foriners, from Gilgit and Skardu. C-130 sorties continued to arrive at PAF Base, Peshawar, and PAF Academy, Risalpur, carrying relief goods, which included rations and mineral water, says a press release.
    Pakistan Navy Search and Rescue (SAR) Operation MADAD in flood hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is also continuing for the fourth day. Pakistan Navy SAR teams have been augmented with two additional SSG(N) / Marine teams along with requisite equipment from Karachi. Pakistan Navy SAR teams, after completing rescue operation in Charsadda area, has been reassigned to Nowshera Kalan region. Reportedly, 5,000 personnel were stranded in the area. Due to continuous day and night extensive flood relief operations, despite experiencing technical/ logistic problems, the PN personnel have so far rescued over 2000 personnel from Nowshera Kalan, says a press release.

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