Pakistan floods toll tops 670

July 31st, 2010 - 5:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, July 31 (DPA) The death toll in floods rose to 672 Saturday as rescue workers tried to reach thousands of people stranded in north-western Pakistan, officials said.
Rivers bloated by monsoon rains submerged thousands of villages, washed away dozens of bridges and telecommunication installations, blocked roads and inundated millions of acres of agricultural land.

Mujahid Khan, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, said that 635 people were killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, the worst-hit area with more than 400,000 people displaced.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial Information Minister, said more than 500 people had died, adding that the latest official death toll would be announced later Saturday.

Hundreds of soldiers were dispatched to rescue and relief in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s worst flooding since 1982.

Soldiers had moved 14,250 people to safety, including 2,800 tourists stranded in mountain resort of Kalam, the military said.

“Seventeen army helicopters are taking parts in these relief activities besides motor boats,” it said.

Hussain appealed to the international community to provide immediate help to prevent “a major humanitarian disaster”.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other UN organisations pledged support for the victims Friday.

US Ambassador Ann Patterson also promised seven helicopters to assist the relief efforts.

Flooding in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir region claimed 24 lives. Thirteen more people died in the central province of Punjab where large areas were flooded.

Pakistan experiences an annual monsoon, which brings heavy rains to the whole subcontinent in July and early August.

Dozens of people were killed last week and tens of thousands displaced in floods in the south-western province of Baluchistan.

The national meteorological department has predicted 10 percent more rain this year than during a normal monsoon season.

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