Three mn affected by Pakistan’s worst floods: UNICEF

August 3rd, 2010 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Aug 3 (DPA) Floods have affected more than 3 million people in north-western Pakistan and the possible outbreak of water-borne diseases among the survivors was a major source of concern, the UN Children’s Fund said Tuesday.
UNICEF said that the death toll in the floods, the region’s worst in the last 81 years, had risen to more than 1,400.

“The devastation is massive. Some 3 million affected people, including an estimated 1 million children among them, are in urgent need of food, drinking water and medicines,” said Martin Mogwanja, the UNICEF representative in Pakistan.

The worst-affected area in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is the mountainous Swat valley, where many villages and dozens of bridges were washed away and roads blocked by landslides.

Damage to the infrastructure was making it difficult for tens of thousands of troops and volunteers to get the relief to survivors.

Military helicopters carried out dozens of sorties to airdrop packets of food and medicine. But the country has few helicopters at its disposal to deliver aid. The authorities were planning to make requests to friendly countries and the UN to provide more helicopters.

“Around 30,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed and tens of thousands of people are living in the open sky,” said Latifur Rehman, a spokesman of Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

“Many of the areas are still inaccessible by roads because the floods have destroyed over 100 bridges,” Rehman added.

The United Nations, the European Union and various countries, including the US, have announced aid to help the flood victims.

Workers involved in the relief operation said they fear the death toll might be much higher than confirmed so far with some putting it at up to 3,000.

Mogwanja said that the main source of concern was a possible outbreak of deadly water-borne diseases like cholera and diarrhoea.

Amid slow relief activities, there were predictions of further rains in the north-western part of the country and the eastern province of Punjab, where huge amounts of water were flowing downstream.

Overflowing rivers have submerged dozens of villages and crops on millions of hectares of agricultural land in Punjab.

“The rains and resultant floods have already started in Swat. This morning three employees of a local hospital were swept away by the fresh flooding,” said Mujahid Khan, a spokesman for the Edhi rescue service.

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