Govt step up flood rescue; more rain due

Water levels are falling in some parts of flood hit areas in 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, where about 65 people were killed in weekend rain.
More than 650 people have been killed across the region in the past 10 days.
Hardest hit has been southern Pakistan. 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 a century ago, have affected up to 2 million people and killed 119 people.
About 250,000 people are homeless and 204 people are missing, 29 of them fishermen, a disaster management official said.
The cyclone hit three days after ferocious wind and rain killed about 230 people in the southern city of Karachi.
The weather was clear on Monday and rescuers were taking advantage to push into areas cut off for nearly a week, relief officials said.
“The water level is definitely going down… we’re slowly reaching even the worst-hit areas,” deputy provincial relief commissioner Ali Gul Kurd told Reuters.
But many road links are still severed, officials said.
President Pervez Musharraf, who has yet to visit the affected area, chaired a meeting of top civilian and military officials who called for relief efforts to be expedited.
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.
Camps for the homeless, who have been crowding into schools, are being set up but Kurd said he had no tents and had appealed for supplies.
The government has not asked for international help.

Copyright Reuters, 2007