Officials: Floods kill at least 267 in Pakistan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – The death toll in three days of flooding in Pakistan reached at least 267 on Friday, rescue and government officials said, as rains bloated rivers, submerged villages, and triggered landslides.
The rising toll of the monsoon rains underscore the poor infrastructure in impoverished Pakistan, where under-equipped rescue workers were struggling to reach people stranded in far-flung villages.
Pakistani TV showed striking images of people clinging to fences and other stationary items as water at times gushed over their heads.
The northwest appeared to be the hardest hit, and Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the province, said it was the worst flooding in the region since 1929.
At least 245 people died in various parts of that province over the last three days, said Mujahid Khan of the Edhi Foundation, a privately run rescue service that operates morgues and ambulances across the South Asian country.
In Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, at least 22 people had been confirmed dead as of Thursday evening, the area’s prime minister, Sardar Attique Khan, told reporters.
The tolls from the deluge were expected to rise because many people were still missing. Poor weather this week also may have been a factor in Wednesday’s Airblue plane crash that killed 152 people in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
In the Swat Valley, residents were forced to trudge through knee-deep water in some streets.
A newly constructed part of a dam in the Charsadda district collapsed, while the U.N. said it had reports that 5,000 homes were underwater in that area. Hussain estimated 400,000 people were stranded in various northwest villages.
“A rescue operation using helicopters cannot be conducted due to the bad weather, while there are only 48 rescue boats available for rescue,” he said on Thursday.
Pakistan’s poorest residents are often the ones living in flood-prone areas because they can’t afford safer land.
Southwest Baluchistan province has also been hit hard by the recent rains. Last week, flash floods in that region killed at least 41 people and swept away thousands of homes. The U.N. statement Thursday said 150,000 people were affected there.
The U.N. said Punjab province in Pakistan’s east was also hit by some flooding. Crops were soaked in farmlands throughout the country. The U.N. said the humanitarian community was trying to put together a proper response, but the rains were making many roads impassable, complicating efforts to assess needs.