Exodus as floods threaten more towns

Hundreds of thousands of people were fleeing areas in Sindh province on Saturday as rising floodwaters breached more defences and inundated towns.

For nearly a month torrential monsoon rains have triggered massive floods, moving steadily from north to south in Pakistan, affecting a fifth of the volatile country and 17 million of its 167 million people.

Sindh is the worst-affected province. Out of its 23 districts, 19 have so far been ravaged by floods, a statement by the United Nations’ Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Friday.

“More than 7 million people have been displaced in Sindh since August 3, one million only in the past two days,” said Ghulam Ali Pasha, provincial relief commissioner for southern Sindh province.

“The magnitude of this catastrophe is so huge that the government cannot cope with it alone. We are trying to grapple it, but we need international support,” he said.

Pasha said that 2.3 million people were still in need of tents and food.

“We are fighting to save Thatta and other towns,” in Sindh province, he added.

Other officials said floods were moving swiftly towards Thatta district and had begun submerging the district’s outskirts.

“Two more breaches have taken place around Thatta. We are trying to save the city, (but) Belo has been submerged in water,” said Hadi Bakhsh Kalhoro, a senior administrative official.

Belo, on the outskirts of Thatta, has a population of around 10,000 people.

Thatta was deserted as people fled with their livestock and other belongings, heading for nearby Makli and Karachi as engineers tried to repair six-metre (20-foot) wide breach a nearby dyke, an AFP reporter said.