Floods claim over 230 lives in Pakistan (Lead)

July 30th, 2010 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS  

By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, July 30 (IANS) Floods triggered by heavy rains have left more than 230 dead and scores of others missing in Pakistan’s northern region in the last two days.

The monsoon has struck the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly NWFP), Pakistan-administered Kashmir and south Punjab and the spell is likely to continue over the next week or so, the meteorological department said.

In Shangla district of the province, 49 people were killed Friday due to landslide while many others were swept away by flash floods. Several people have lost their belongings and their houses have been razed to the ground.

Thousands of people have been stranded as the road networks have been paralysed after more than 40 bridges, connecting one city to the other, have been destroyed because of floods and landslides.

Communication has been severely affected and proper information is not reaching the quarters concerned, which makes reaching out to the affected people more difficult.

President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the authorities to expedite the relief efforts and was constantly monitoring the situation, his spokesman Farhatullah Babar told a local TV channel.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also ordered the evacuation of people from areas under threat within the given deadline.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, more than 20,000 people are stranded at various places. The most affected areas in the province include the provincial capital Peshawar, Swat valley, Charsadda, Bannu, Kohat, Malakand, Hazara, Dera Ismail Khan and Noshera among others.

Armed forces have been called in for relief operations. Pakistan navy and air force have started sending the rescue teams to the affected areas and life boats are being dispatched along with food items and medicines.

There is considerable threat of epidemic outbreak in the affected areas as the medicine supplies and health care facilities are insufficient to meet the challenge. National Disaster Management Authority has appealed for foreign assistance in the rescue and relief operations.

In Punjab, floods in river Indus have caused a breach in safety valves and water has entered Mianwali city. More than 600,000 cusecs of flood water is likely to pass through Taunsa barrage sometime during the next 12-18 hours. Administration has already been alerted in the districts of Dera Ghazi Khan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah and Rajanpur.

The Naseerabad division of Balochistan and adjoining areas are also affected by the rains. In Muzaffarabad and other areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the situation has now improved after the water level has started dipping down.

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