Flooding in Pakistan has killed more than 800 people in a week, a government official said today as rescuers struggled to reach marooned victims.
The flooding caused by record-breaking rainfalls has caused massive destruction in the past week, especially in the north-west province of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, where officials said it was the worst deluge since 1929.
The UN estimated today that some one million people nationwide were affected by the disaster.
The information minister for the north-west province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, said reports coming in from various districts across the north-west showed that more than 800 people had died due to the flooding. Many people remain missing.
Floodwaters were believed to be receding in some sections, but it was difficult to get a complete picture.
In the Nowshera area, scores of men, women and children sat on roofs in the hope of air or boat rescues.
“There are very bad conditions,” said Amjad Ali, a rescue worker in the area. “They have no water, no food.”
A doctor treating evacuees at a small relief camp in Nowshera said some had diarrhoea and others had marks appearing on their skin, causing itching. Children and the elderly seemed to have the most problems, Mehmood Jaa said.
“Due to the floodwater, they now have pain in their bodies and they are suffering from fever and cough,” Mr Jaa said.
Rescuers were using army helicopters, heavy trucks and boats to try reaching flood-hit areas, the UN said.
It reported that thousands of homes and roads were destroyed, and at least 45 bridges across the north-west were damaged.
The destruction is slowing the rescue effort, said Luther Rehman, a government official in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, the north-west province.
“Our priority is to transport flood-affected people to safer places. We are carrying out this rescue operation despite limited resources,” he said, adding they needed more helicopters and boats.
Qamarul Zaman, the head of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said that no more rain was expected in the next few days for the north-west and that floodwaters there were receding.
But Punjab province in the east, Sindh province in the south, and Pakistan’s side of the disputed Kashmir region could all expect heavy rain over the next three or four days, he said.
Flooding has already affected some of those regions, with more than 21 people dying in Kashmir.
A plane crash that killed 152 people in Islamabad on Wednesday also occurred during stormy weather.