Residents flee as flash-floods death toll approaches 500

Residents flee as flash-floods death toll approaches 500

Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing flash floods after being warned to evacuate as the death toll from severe monsoon rains in Pakistan and neighbouring India climbed to 457 people.

Ahmad Kamal, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority, said the Chenab River breached an embankment early today following a warning the day before.

The floods, which began in the Himalayan region between the two countries on September 3, have flowed down to the plains, affecting more than 1.5 million people in Pakistan.

The deluge is the worst since 2010, when some 1,700 people died in flooding in Pakistan.

The Chenab River breach could be a 300ft wide breach, Pakistani minister for water and power Khwaja Mohammad Asif told the country's parliament.

"We have so far breached it only 100 feet." He had said on Tuesday that the breach could cause nearly 700,000 to leave their homes.

Five more districts could be at risk from the flooding, said Mr Kamal.

Pakistani and Indian troops have been using boats and helicopters to drop food supplies for stranded families and evacuate victims. However, the challenge of the situation grows as more than 1.5 million people are now affected as the rushing waters have destroyed the homes of thousands of families.

The floods have triggered landslides in the divided Kashmir region, split between the two rivals, and caused much devastation in northern and eastern Pakistan.

The rains washed away houses, bridges, communication equipment and crops. Pakistani and Indian troops say they have evacuated nearly 75,000 people.

Others have waded through waist-deep water to escape the floods, as women carried household items and children on their shoulders as others dragged their livestock along. Hundreds of others remain stranded on the rooftops, waving for help to every passing helicopter.

"We are focusing more on women, elderly people and children," said a rescue official in the Jhang district.

"I have lost everything," said Haleema Bibi, 65, while weeping after she got off a boat. Her granddaughter was scheduled to get married in some days, she said, whose dowry the water has swept away. She appealed to the rescuers to go back to her village again where her grandson was still stranded.

So far, 257 have died in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir and at least 200 people have been killed in India, officials said.

In Pakistan, the floods are now moving south, said Mr Kamal.

The inundated Kashmir region in the northern Himalayas is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. Two of the three wars the countries have fought since their independence from Britain in 1947 have been over controlling it.

Both nation's armies airdropped relief packages to victims that included blankets, food supplies, medicine and drinking water.

In aerial shots of Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, it looked like a giant, muddy lake with only the tops of inundated houses visible. Scared survivors clung to tree tops and waited for rescue helicopters to save them.

Tempers were also running high over rescue efforts from the worst flooding.

In one neighbourhood angry survivors heckled a former government minister and got into scuffles with some rescue workers as anxiety about thousands still missing or unaccounted for grew.

"They are asking for bribes to rescue us," said one man shaking with rage.

More on this topic

Pakistan told by US to fund its own flood rebuildingPakistan told by US to fund its own flood rebuilding

Jolie sees Pakistan devastationJolie sees Pakistan devastation

Pakistan floods predicted to hammer economyPakistan floods predicted to hammer economy

Clegg: 'Pakistan will need aid for years'Clegg: 'Pakistan will need aid for years'

More in this Section

Joe Biden gets endorsement from man who nearly won presidencyJoe Biden gets endorsement from man who nearly won presidency

Playing Pokemon Go among reasons given for smartphone-related injuries – studyPlaying Pokemon Go among reasons given for smartphone-related injuries – study

Satellites aiming to measure carbon emissions ‘will not be used to police world’ say EUSatellites aiming to measure carbon emissions ‘will not be used to police world’ say EU

Australian studies link social media to eating disorders in young peopleAustralian studies link social media to eating disorders in young people


Lifestyle

Esther N McCarthy picks perfect paperweights, brilliant books and Christmas collectables this week.Brilliant books and Christmas collectables - here's our wish list

Kya deLongchamps wonders if we should surrender to the pagan prompting of mistletoe.Mistletoe is returning to its hemiparasitic life back in the woodland

Playing games will sneak in physical activity without them even realising.9 fun ways to get your kids to do more exercise

It all began with a Christmas special 30 years ago this month. Chris Wasser pays tribute to The Simpsons.The Simpsons is 30 years old - and it all began with a Christmas special

More From The Irish Examiner