Pakistan flood toll tops 1,100 as cholera emerges
Peshawar, Pakistan (AFP) Aug 1, 2010
The death toll from Pakistan's worst floods in living memory topped 1,100 on Sunday as outbreaks of water-borne disease emerged and penniless survivors sought refuge from the raging torrents.
More than 1.5 million people have been affected by monsoon rains, flash floods and landslides in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and at least another 47 have died in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, officials said.
Thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland have been destroyed in a region of Pakistan reeling from years of extremist bloodshed.
"The floods have killed more than 1,100 people in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and affected over 1.5 million," Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told AFP.
"We are receiving information about the loss of life and property caused by the floods all over the province," he said, adding that he feared the death toll could rise.
A senior official at the provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) confirmed the toll.
Hussain said more than 3,700 homes had been swept away in the floods, and the number of people made homeless was mounting.
Hundreds of survivors sought shelter in schools in Peshawar, the main city in northwest Pakistan, and in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, after escaping the floods with children on their backs.
The US government is rushing helicopters, boats, bridges, water units and other supplies to Pakistan as part of an 10-million-dollar aid pledge.
"The Pakistani people are friends and partners, and the United States is standing with them as the tragic human toll mounts from flooding in northwest Pakistan," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.
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.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed his country's "solidarity" with Pakistan and said France supported the European Union's humanitarian aid effort.
Kouchner and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are due to meet Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday as he makes a two-day visit to Paris.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said it had airlifted more than 500 stranded people, including six foreigners, as part of relief operations and was carrying out reconnaissance missions to assess the damage to infrastructure.
Floods also ravaged parts of Afghanistan, killing at least 65 people and affecting more than 1,000 families, officials said.
Pakistani television footage and photographs taken from helicopters showed people clinging to the walls and rooftops of damaged houses as water rushed through villages.
Muqaddir Khan, 25, who fled the floods with nine relatives, told AFP in Peshawar that he had lost everything.
"I laboured hard in Saudi Arabia for three years and set up a small shop which was swept away by flooding in minutes," Khan said.
Pakistan's weather bureau said the northwest had been hit by an "unprecedented" 312 millimetres (12 inches) of rain in the space of 36 hours.
More than 300 people affected by the floods rallied in Peshawar on Sunday, chanting slogans criticising the provincial government for not providing them with adequate shelter.
"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 AFP.
Waseyullah, 33, said his two brothers had worked as labourers in Saudi Arabia for the money to build a small furniture factory which he lost in the floods.
"I expect the provincial government to help me financially to rebuild this factory," he added.
Information Minister Hussain said rescue teams were trying to reach 1,500 tourists stranded in Swat district, which was the scene of a major anti-Taliban offensive last year.
"We are also getting confirmation of reports about an outbreak of cholera in some areas of Swat," he said.
The army said it had sent boats and helicopters to rescue stranded people and its engineers were trying to open more roads and divert swollen rivers.
In Pakistani 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 are killed, injured and displaced there," State Disaster Management Authority chief Farooq Niaz said.
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.
The flooding capped a week of tragedy for Pakistan after an airliner crashed into hills near Islamabad on Wednesday, killing all 152 people on board.
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Beijing (AFP) July 30, 2010
At least 29 people have been killed and seven are missing after floodwaters swept through northeast China, state media said Thursday, as the death toll from the worst floods in years neared 1,000. More than 254,000 people were evacuated and 21,875 buildings collapsed in the floods in Jilin province, Xinhua news agency reported, quoting a statement from the civil affairs department released l ... read more
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