Floods wreak havocTotal Views - 7By: Online on:02 Aug 2010PESHAWAR – The catastrophic floods sweeping the 95 percent area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa claimed more lives on Sunday as the death toll reached 1,100.A large number of casualties have been reported from Malakand division, wherein about 385 people so far have lost their lives in various incidents of drowning and building collapses. Confirming the official reports emanating from Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) about the increasing losses of lives in the region, the District Administrative Officers of Swat, Malakand and Dir said that the rescue work was underway to help the calamity-hit people of their respective areas.With the recovery of 16 more dead bodies in Shangla, it is feared that the land sliding at Oalundar area may result in more casualties. In Upper Dir 66 dead bodies have been recovered so far while several people still are missing amid the huge flooding of the area. Subsequently, several thunderstorms have also added to the miseries of the people in Dir with a large number of people lost their lives as a result of those storms.According to official figures, 471 people have died in the floods of unprecedented nature, however the unofficial data suggests that the death casualties are well over 1100 people. The intensity of the disaster could be judged from the fact that almost 95 percent area of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province comprising 22 districts out of the total 24 districts.In district Swat, the administration has announced the closure of educational institutions for fifteen more days. Thirty-five more dead bodies were also recovered on Sunday from Mohib Banda and Nowshera Kalan from under the debris of the damaged buildings. In the rescue operations carried out so far in Nowshera district, more than 26000 stranded people have been shifted to safer places with the help of Army helicopters.Villages of Malak Ziarat Khan Korona and Zahi Bala have been fully evacuated to prevent human losses whereas the floodwater has gushed into residential areas.The Peshawar-Islamabad motorway has not been opened yet, while the sources from the National Highways Authority have revealed that the Grand Trunk Road would remain closed until the completion of repairing work.Agencies add: The rescue effort was aided by a slackening of the monsoon rains. But as floodwaters started to recede, authorities began to understand the full scale of the disaster.“Aerial monitoring is being conducted, and it has shown that whole villages have washed away, animals have drowned and grain storages have washed away,” said Latifur Rehman, spokesman for the Provincial Disaster Management Authority. “The destruction is massive.”The 1,100 death toll from the flooding could go even higher since rescue workers have been unable to access certain areas, said Adnan Khan, a disaster management official. At least another 47 have died in Azad Kashmir, officials said.Authorities have deployed 43 military helicopters and more than 100 boats to try to rescue some 27,300 people still trapped by the floods, said Rehman, the disaster management spokesman.“All efforts are being used to rescue people stuck in inaccessible areas and all possible help is being provided to affected people,” said Rehman.Up to one million people have been affected, according to the United Nations, with thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland destroyed in a region reeling from years of extremist bloodshed.“This is the worst flood in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the country’s history,” said provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.Hussain told AFP that “more than 1,000 people have been killed by floods in different parts of the province.“At least 713 people died in Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda while the death toll in Shangla and Swat districts is over 300,” he added.A senior official at the provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) confirmed the toll.Hundreds of survivors sought shelter in schools in Peshawar and in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, after escaping the floods with children on their backs.“The level of devastation is so widespread, so large, it is quite possible that in many areas there are damages, there are deaths which may not have been reported,” army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas told reporters late on Saturday.More than 30,000 army troops have rescued over 19,000 people from the marooned areas, but officials conceded some might still be trapped and awaiting help in remote areas including Kohistan, Nowshera, Dir and in the Swat valley.“Virtually no bridge has been left in Swat. All major and minor bridges have gone, destroyed completely,” Abbas said of the famous tourist valley which has borne the brunt of the floods.A photographer in Nowshera on Sunday saw two bodies lying on the ground and animals corpses in several places, as groups of people waded through submerged areas to reach dry land.“There is now a real danger of the spread of water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, asthma, skin allergies and perhaps cholera in these areas,” Shaharyar Bangash, World Vision Pakistan’s Programmes Manager, said in a statement.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 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.The metrological office said an “unprecedented” 312 millimetres of rain had fallen in 36 hours in the northwest but forecast only scattered showers would fall during coming days.More than 300 people hit by floods rallied in Peshawar on Sunday, chanting slogans against the provincial government for not providing them adequate shelter, reporter witnessed.“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.Waseyullah, 33, said his two brothers had worked as labourers in Saudi Arabia for the money with which he had built the small furniture factory he lost in the floods.“I expect the provincial government to help me financially to rebuild this factory,” he added.More than 3,700 houses have been swept away by the floods in Pakistan and the number of people made homeless is rising, said Iftikhar Hussain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s information minister.“Our rescue teams are also trying to extricate some 1,500 tourists who are stranded in the Kalam and Behrain towns of Swat district,” he said, referring to a region where the military last year waged a major anti-Taliban offensive.“We are also getting confirmation of reports about an outbreak of cholera in some areas of Swat,” Hussain added.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 Azad 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,” Disaster Management Authority chief Farooq Niaz said.The United Nations said one million people had been affected, with whole towns cut off after days of torrential monsoon rains triggered flash floods and landslides.“We still do not have the full picture because of the breakdown in communications, we have still difficulties to reach out to our offices in Nowshera, in Swat, in Charsadda,” Manuel Bessler, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) in Pakistan, told the BBC.“We have a planning figure of one million people affected directly by the floods.”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.Downstream, floods have already struck areas in the central Punjab, and emergency crews aided by soldiers airlifted people from hundreds of submerged villages on Sunday in the Taunsa area, a town on the Indus River about 388 km southwest of Islamabad.Troops rescued more than 1,400 people trapped by rising water in central Punjab, said Brig Ahmad Waqas. “We have lost everything: our houses, our crops, cattle,” said Ahmad Hasan at a government relief camp in Taunsa Sharif district.The threat of disease loomed as well as some evacuees in the northwest arrived in camps with fever, diarrhoea and skin problems.Officials said massive flood surges would enter the southern Sindh province between Tuesday and Thursday, and could cause widespread damage to property and farmland around the riverbanks and in low-lying areas.“A super flood of this magnitude will be the first in 18 to 20 years to hit Sindh, but major cities like Karachi and Hyderabad were unlikely to be affected,” Jameel Soomro, a spokesman for the prhttp://www.raychannel.com/index.php?option=com_news&task=view&id=5875&cat=1ovincial Sindh government, told.“The risk is there, danger is there but we are doing our best to minimise losses as much as can,” he said.Monitoring Desk adds: The number of deaths caused by surging flash floods and lashing downpours in the country, skidded past 1,300 thus far, reported on Sunday.
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