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08-16-2010, 11:52 AM
Pakistan: Authorities warns of more floods as millions affected

16-08-2010
SUKKUR, (Dawn): Authorities warned of more flooding this week in Pakistan and heavy rain lashed victims living in makeshift camps Monday, adding to the urgency of a massive international relief effort under way.

Pakistan's worst floods in recorded history began more than two weeks ago in the mountainous northwest and have spread throughout the country. Around 20 million people and 160,000 square kilometres of land — about 1/5 of the country — have been affected.

''Floods seem to be chasing us everywhere,'' said 45-year-old Ali Bakhsh Bhaio, as monsoon downpours pounded his makeshift tent on the side of the major highway in Sukkur, a hard-hit area in Sindh province. ''Allah is punishing us for our sins.''

The Sindh irrigation minister, Jam Saifullah Dharejo, said the dam in Sukkur faced a major test of its strength as floodwaters coursed down the Indus River into Pakistan's highly populated agricultural heartland.

''The coming four to five days are still crucial,'' he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew over the flood-hit area Sunday and said he had never seen a disaster on such a scale. He urged the international community to speed up assistance to the country.

The world body has appealed for an initial $460 million to provide relief, of which around 60 per cent has been given.

Once the floods recede, billions more will be needed for reconstruction and getting people back to work in the already-poor nation of 170 million people. The International Monetary Fund has warned that the floods could dent economic growth and fuel inflation.

While local charities and international agencies have helped hundreds of thousands of people with food, water, shelter and medical treatment, the scale of the disaster has meant that many millions have received little or no assistance. The UN has voiced fears that disease in overcrowded and unsanitary relief camps may yet cause more deaths.