Friday, August 6, 2010

Pakistan issues flooding 'red alert' for Sindh province

Pakistan issued a red alert as floods that have devastated the north-west swept south into the agricultural heartland of Sindh province.Authorities have evacuated hundreds of thousands of people living near the Indus River as hundreds of villages have been inundated by the flooding.Prime Minister Raza Yousuf Gilani has appealed for international aid.The worst floods in the region for 80 years have killed at least 1,600 people and affected about 14 million.Officials say 650,000 homes have been destroyed, 1.4m acres (557,000 hectares) of crop land has been flooded across the country and more than 10,000 cows have perished.
Helicopters grounded

Pakistan's meteorological department has predicted further downpours for badly-hit Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the north-west. It is only half-way through the region's monsoon season.All the helicopters working in the north-west to deliver aid and rescue stranded survivors have been grounded because of the bad weather, said Amal Masud from the National Disaster Management Authority.Prime Minister Gilani called the flooding the worst in Pakistan's 63-year history.In an appearance on national television he appealed for international help."I would ask the international community to support and help Pakistan alleviate the sufferings of its flood-affected people."

A UN official, Manuel Bessler, told the BBC that with crops swept away by floodwaters, some Pakistanis could be forced to rely on food aid to get through the winter. He said the immediate priorities for survivors were clean drinking water and medical assistance.BBC's Adam Mynott: 'It's a catastrophe... and that's no overstatement' Some of those affected by the flooding have been critical of the government's response. "Floods killed our people, they have ruined our homes and even washed away the graves of our loved ones," said Mai Sahat, near Sukkur in Sindh.

"Yet we are here without help from the government," she was quoted as saying by Associated Press news agency. Anger is growing at the absence of President Asif Ali Zardari, who left the country to visit Britain for talks with Prime Minister David Cameron.With flood victims bitterly accusing the authorities of failing to come to their aid, the disaster has piled yet more pressure on an administration struggling to contain Taliban violence and an economic crisis.


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