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Pakistan flood toll tops 1,100 as cholera emerges
 Sun, 01 Aug 2010
 
  PESHAWAR, Pakistan: The death toll from Pakistan's worst floods in living memory stood at over 1,100 on Monday, with water-borne disease emerging as a threat to survivors.

More than 1.5 million people have been affected by flash floods and landslides brought on by monsoon rain in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, officials said.

"The floods have killed more than 1,100 people in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and affected over 1.5 million," Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the province's information minister, said.

"We are receiving information about the loss of life and property caused by the floods all over the province," he said, adding that he feared the death toll could rise.

A senior official at the provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) confirmed the toll.

Hussain said more than 3,700 homes had been swept away and the number of people made homeless was mounting.

Hundreds of survivors sought shelter in schools in Peshawar, the main city in northwest Pakistan, and in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, after escaping the floods with children on their backs.

The US government has announced an initial 10-million-dollar aid pledge and has rushed helicopters and boats to Pakistan.

China, which has also been hit by severe flooding, announced a 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) donation, according to the official Xinhua news agency, which cited a government website.

Hussain said rescue teams were trying to reach 1,500 tourists stranded in Swat district, the scene of a major anti-Taliban military offensive last year.

"We are also getting confirmation of reports about an outbreak of cholera in some areas of Swat," he said.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said it had airlifted more than 500 stranded people, including six foreigners, as part of relief operations and was carrying out reconnaissance missions to assess the damage to infrastructure.

President Asif Ali Zardari is due in Paris Monday for a two-day visit, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed France's "solidarity" with Pakistan in the face of the floods.

Floods also ravaged parts of Afghanistan, killing at least 65 people and affecting more than 1,000 families, officials said.

Pakistani television footage and photographs taken from helicopters showed people clinging to the walls and rooftops of damaged houses as water rushed through villages.

Pakistan's weather bureau said the northwest had been hit by an "unprecedented" 312 millimetres (12 inches) of rain in 36 hours.

More than 300 people affected by the floods rallied in Peshawar on Sunday, chanting slogans criticising the provincial government for not providing them with adequate shelter.

"I had built a two-room house on the outskirts of Peshawar with my hard-earned money but I lost it in the floods," said 53-year-old labourer Ejaz Khan, who joined the rally.

"The government is not helping us... the school building where I sheltered is packed with people, with no adequate arrangement for food and medicine," Khan said.

The flooding capped a week of tragedy for Pakistan after an airliner crashed into hills near Islamabad on Wednesday, killing all 152 people on board.


 
 
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