Floods caused by monsoon rains kill more than 400 people in Pakistan

 

THREE DAYS of severe monsoon rains have killed more than 400 people in Pakistan, as rivers burst their banks sweeping away bridges and destroying countless homes. Officials said it was the worst flooding since 1929.

Although the weather eased yesterday, the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers struggle to reach hundreds of thousands of people cut off for days by high water levels. More rain is forecast for the weekend adding to the misery.

“According to initial reports received from all districts, 408 people have so far been killed since Wednesday,” information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told reporters in Peshawar.

The army, which is leading the rescue and relief activity, said it had evacuated about 14,250 people from the flooded regions so far. The rugged, remote north-western province of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa was the worst affected with 300mm of rain falling in 36 hours in some areas.

In one of the worst incidents, at least 29 people were killed when a landslide caused by the torrential downpour hit a mountain village. Residents said they had pulled 16 victims from the rubble in Olandar Village but were struggling in desperate conditions.

Fazlullah Khan, a local member of parliament, said: “A rescue operation is under way. Bad weather is a big hurdle.” An estimated 300,000 were stranded as roads were turned into raging torrents of muddy water. Hundreds of houses have been swept away.

“The infrastructure of this province was already destroyed by terrorism,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial information minister, in a televised news conference from Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa.

“Whatever was left was finished off by these floods. There are chances of further flooding and more damage.” Another 22 people died in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir when dozens of houses collapsed. Part of the Silk Road along the Karakoram Highway, which links China to Pakistan, was closed after a bridge was washed away.

All available army troops have been mobilised to help the rescue, including engineers tasked with trying to divert floodwaters.

Investigators believe bad weather was also a factor in Wednesday’s crash of AirBlue flight 202 in Islamabad, which killed all 152 people on board.