Government step up flood rescue; more rain due


Water levels are falling in some parts of flood-hit Pakistan enabling rescuers to reach areas cut off for days but more bad weather is on the way, officials said on Monday.
Pakistan has been battered by early rainy season storms and flooding while severe weather has also affected Afghanistan and India. About 600 people have been killed across the region in the past 10 days.
Hardest-hit has been Balochistan. A cyclone last week brought torrential rain and severe flooding to large tracts of mostly flat, usually desert-like, Balochistan province.
The cyclone and floods, the worst in Balochistan since records began nearly 100 years ago, have affected up to 2 million people and killed about 110. An estimated 250,000 people are homeless.
The cyclone hit three days after ferocious wind and rain killed about 230 people in Karachi.
The weather was generally clear on Monday and rescuers were taking advantage to push into areas that have been cut off for nearly a week, said deputy provincial relief commissioner Ali Gul Kurd.
“The water level is definitely going down … we’re slowly reaching even the worst-hit areas,” Kurd told Reuters.
The military is helping organise rescue and relief efforts with six C-130 cargo aircraft and more than two dozen helicopters carrying out search and rescue and relief operations.
Aid is being taken by rail to the town of Sibi and distributed from there while the coastal belt is being supplied by sea.
Camps for the homeless, who have been crowding into schools, are being set up but Kurd said he had no tents.
“We don’t have tents. Some non-governmental organisations have made commitments but we’ve also asked the Punjab government to supply us tents immediately,” he said.
Punjab is the centre of Pakistan’s textile and tent-making industry.
HEAVY RAIN DUE
The floods, the worst in Pakistan since 1992, are the second natural disaster to strike the country in 20 months. An earthquake hit northern mountains in October 2005, killing 73,000 people.
Kurd said snakes and gastro-intestinal problems were also major headaches. Meteorologists said southern parts of Sindh province, of which Karachi is capital, and Balochistan’s coastal belt were in for more bad weather this week.
Flooding has also hit Pakistan’s Khyber Pass area, killing about 50 people.

Copyright Reuters, 2007