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Pakistan PM calls for global flood help
by Staff Writers
Islamabad (AFP) Sept 11, 2011

Tropical Storm Nate makes Mexico landfall
Xalapa, Mexico (AFP) Sept 11, 2011 - Tropical Storm Nate made landfall on Mexico's gulf coast on Sunday bringing torrential rain and high winds, as forecasters said the system would weaken to a depression in the coming hours.

Authorities in the eastern state of Veracruz maintained a storm alert and warned of the threat of flooding and landslides in mountainous regions from the heavy rain.

Nate was packing maximum sustained winds of 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour and was moving inland at a steady nine miles per hour, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in its 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) advisory.

Bad weather caused by Nate earlier this week forced the evacuation of an oil rig in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and 10 workers were missing.

Further to the east was fast-moving Tropical Storm Maria, which was passing just north of the Virgin Islands packing winds of up to 60 miles per hours (95 kph).

To the north of Nate, the United States was still mopping up from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, which slammed into the Gulf Coast one week ago, dumping torrential rains on a huge swath of the American south, mid-Atlantic region and northeast, where it caused historic flooding.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has called for international help for up to five million people affected by recent monsoon rains.

Floods in Pakistan have killed 138 people in a month and affected up to five million more, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.

Sindh, a flood-prone southern province, was the hardest-hit area with thousands of houses and large areas of crops destroyed.

"International organisations and the world community should focus their attention on the affected people," Gilani said in an address to the nation late Saturday.

"We are sure that international organisations and the world community would sympathetically consider the appeal by the President of Pakistan and take immediate steps for the rehabilitation of flood-affected people."

President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday asked the United Nations to issue an international appeal for humanitarian assistance.

Gilani said that recent rains in Sindh were almost two and a half times normal levels, and had inundated an area of 4.1 million acres, including 1.7 million acres of crops.

He said 700,000 houses were damaged across 21 districts, 150,000 people in relief camps needed immediate assistance, and 64,000 livestock had been lost.

The UN children's agency said up to 2.5 million children in southern Pakistan had been affected by the monsoon floods.

UNICEF said many people were still recovering from last year, when the worst floods in Pakistan's history affected 21 million people and killed an estimated 1,750, with the south again taking the brunt of the devastation.

"Children are the most vulnerable in any emergency -- in this disaster, many are experiencing the devastating effects of a flood emergency for the second time in a year," the organisation's Pakistan head, Dan Rohrmann, said in a statement.

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Officials sacked after fatal China boat mishap
Beijing (AFP) Sept 11, 2011 - Three local government officials were sacked after 12 people, including nine schoolchildren, lost their lives when an overloaded ferry boat sank in central China, state press said Sunday.

The accident occurred Saturday on a river in Shaoyang city, Hunan province when the ferry capsized with 50 people, including 41 school students, on board, the China News Service reported.

Eleven people were initially reported killed but searchers Sunday found the body of one person who was missing, it said, adding that the toll could rise further as the boat had not yet been lifted from the river bottom.

Three local officials, including the vice head of Shaoyang county, have been sacked because of the accident, while police have detained for questioning the boat's owners and workers who were dredging the river, Xinhua news agency said.

Officials said the ferry sank after it cut across dredging cables that appeared to then become wrapped around its propeller, Xinhua reported.

The Hunan transportation department said the boat was designed to carry only 14 people, the report said.

Lax regulation and poor enforcement of safety rules on China's waterways make fatal accidents fairly common.

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Military rescue helicopter missing in Indonesia
Timika, Indonesia (AFP) Sept 11, 2011
A rescue helicopter was feared to have gone down in Indonesia's remote province of Papua during a mission to find two foreign pilots whose plane crashed, the military said Sunday. The military chopper searching for the Australian and Slovakian pilots from the crashed Susi Air aircraft lost contact on Saturday, said Mimika military district commander Christian Tuhuteru. "There is a chance ... read more

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