More than 800,000 stricken in wake of Pakistan flooding
The Associated Press June 28, 2007 (Published in International HErald Tribune)
TURBAT, Pakistan: Helicopters dropped relief supplies to some of the more than 800,000 people hit by monsoon flooding in southwest Pakistan, as flash floods killed 20 in an area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.
Many of those affected were stranded in high open areas or on roofs in Baluchistan province following Cyclone Yemyin.
Twenty people died in flash floods Thursday in the northwestern Khyber Agency tribal region, said government official Ilyas Khan.
The total number of lives lost in the unusually severe flooding is still unknown.
Floods have also ravaged four eastern provinces of neighboring Afghanistan, causing at least four deaths, a NATO statement said.
NATO troops and Afghan police rescued 42 trapped villagers in Kapisa province Wednesday. Flooding was also reported in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan and Kunar, where four died Tuesday when the Pech River overran its banks.
Monsoon storms have claimed more than 120 lives in neighboring India.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep concern and reaffirmed the U.N.'s readiness to help, spokeswoman Michele Montas said in New York.
In Pakistan, the army took over relief operations, using helicopters and C130 transport planes to reach areas needing help most.
Khubah Bakhsh, the provincial relief commissioner, estimated that 200,000 houses had been destroyed or damaged.
He said more than 800,000 people have been affected by the floods.
The cyclone struck Baluchistan's coast Tuesday, killing at least 12 people, provincial government spokesman Raziq Bugti said earlier.
Others were believed lost in the Arabian Sea, but no estimates were available.
Bakhsh said an accurate, updated death toll was impossible, with many telephone links cut.
In one of the hardest-hit areas — Turbat city and surrounding villages — the first relief supplies only began arriving about 48 hours after the cyclone hit, driving the mayor to resign and angry residents to protest.
"We have been saved from the flood, but we may die of starvation," said Mohammed Kash, a teacher at a rural school.
From a helicopter, an Associated Press reporter saw only the tops of palm trees protruding from vast sheets of water in some areas.
People, cows and goats were stranded on rooftops without water or food, in sweltering 43-degree Centigrade (109-degree Fahrenheit) heat.