1,600 dead, 15 mn affected in Pakistan floods (Lead)

August 7th, 2010 - 10:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Aug 7 (IANS) Authorities in Pakistan raced to evacuate families threatened with fresh floods as heavy rains worsened the deluge which had left at least 1,600 people dead and affected 15 million others.
Officials in Sindh province warned that a major deluge could hit impoverished river communities in the fertile basin, where they said up to three million people had already been affected and one million evacuated, Dawn News reported Saturday.

Torrential rains continued to hammer northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and helicopter services ferrying aid to some areas had to be suspended until the bad weather subsided.

According to UN estimates, floods across the country have swept away entire villages and killed at least 1,600 people, the report said.

Those uprooted from their homes in Sindh have been moved to temporary relief shelters in government buildings, schools and tents, but many families living in low-lying areas were resisting evacuation.

“There are some areas where people are still reluctant to leave their homes and belongings. We are compelling them to evacuate because there is massive danger to their lives,” said irrigation minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo.

“At least four districts are on high alert as the flood wave prepares to enter Sindh,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has appealed for immediate international help to cope with the country’s worst ever floods.

Countries including the US, Britain and China have pledged tens of millions of dollars in aid for victims of the nearly two-week-old disaster.

The meteorological office has warned that at least two more days of rain are expected in Sindh, where a red alert is in place because of the “imminent” and “extreme” flood threat.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, head of flood relief operations Major General Ghayoor Mehmood, has said about 1,400 people have been killed, with 213 still missing.

More than 252,000 homes are thought to have been damaged or destroyed across Pakistan and 1.38 million acres of crop land flooded, and it could take weeks before electricity is fully restored.

The flooding has threatened electricity generation plants, forcing units to shut down in a country already suffering a crippling energy crisis.

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