Pakistan: New flood alert as 800,000 cut off

Hyerabad, 25 August (AKI/DAWN) - Pakistan battled on Wednesday to save areas threatened by more devastating flood waters. Meanwhile the United Nations warned that 800,000 people in desperate need of aid had been cut off.

Pakistani officials have warned that the fertile southern plains in Sindh province face the risk of more flooding in the next few days as the major Indus river threatens to burst its banks.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from flood-threatened areas close to Hyderabad, a city of 2.5 million people on the lower reaches of the Indus, where more than 40 nearby villages have been swept away.

The UN launched an urgent appeal Tuesday for more helicopters to deliver aid to an estimated 800,000 people in Pakistan who were reachable only by air, after floods triggered by a torrent of monsoon rains washed away bridges and vital access roads.

Pakistan's worst humanitarian catastrophe has affected more than 17 million people, with five million still homeless, according to the UN.

Officials warn that millions are at risk from disease and food shortages. At least eight million are believed to need life-saving humanitarian assistance, and over 1.2 million homes have been damaged or destroyed

Around 1,500 people have been confirmed dead by Pakistani authorities.

“These unprecedented floods pose unprecedented logistical challenges, and this requires an extraordinary effort by the international community,” said John Holmes, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Tuesday that more than 3.5 million children were at risk from disease.

After an intense lobbying campaign of donors, global pledges have topped 700 million dollars. But Pakistani and international relief officials have raised concerns about the slow pace of aid.

Islamabad has warned the monsoon flooding could cause 43 billion dollars of damage to Pakistan, and officials are reported to be seeking a loan from the International Monetary Fund worth nearly 11 billion dollars.

Pakistan's chief meteorologist Arif Mehmood said on Tuesday that the flood risk remained high in the south, while waters had receded in hard-hit Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West Frontier Province).

Photo: Xinhua


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