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  1. #1
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    Pakistan floods 'kill 800' people and affect a million

    Pakistan floods 'kill 800' people and affect a million

    The worst monsoon floods in living memory have killed at least 800 people and affected one million in north-west Pakistan, a local official has said.

    Rescuers are struggling to reach inundated areas where transport and communication are down.

    Peshawar, the area's largest city with a 3m-strong population, is cut off.

    At least 60 people have died across the border in Afghanistan where floods affected four provinces.

    Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier) province, announced the latest death toll. Earlier, he described the floods as the province's worst ever.

    Manuel Bessler, the head of the UN's Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) in Pakistan, told the BBC about 1m people's lives had been disrupted.

    He could not say with certainty the full scale of the emergency in Pakistan, as he was having trouble reaching his own offices in some of the worst-affected areas.

    UN aid workers were helping to co-ordinate efforts to provide shelter, health care, drinking water and ready-to-eat food rations, he said.

    There was concern, he added, that swollen rivers running south would carry the floods to provinces like Sindh where heavy rain was forecast in coming days.

    Washed away

    The government declared a state of emergency as Pakistan's meteorological department said 312mm (12in) of rain had fallen over the last 36 hours in the north-west - the largest amount for decades.

    At the scene

    Lyse Doucet BBC News, Khyber- Pakhtoonkhwa province

    This is the proverbial end of the road: what was once the traditional trunk highway running south is now a massive lake.

    Further back, it's clogged up with traders and families who've been stranded on the road for days. They are trying, hoping against hope, that they can still move south, but a lot of them are turning back. The road simply isn't passable.

    We've seen whole families passing on foot, grandparents and parents carrying children and possessions on their heads.

    So many Pakistanis here say they haven't had any help from the government or relief agencies. And yet we see the military helicopters going overhead occasionally.

    The Pakistani army and rescue services say they're trying to reach people, but the scale of this disaster is such they simple don't have the resources.

    The districts of Swat and Shangla have been inaccessible with people left homeless and helpless after several rivers burst their banks, washing away villages, roads and bridges. Some 45 bridges were washed away in Swat alone.

    The BBC's Lyse Doucet, who is travelling through some of the worst-hit areas, says at least half a million people remain marooned on islands of high ground, while others have taken refuge in mosques and schools.

    TV footage taken from helicopters flying over the flooded landscape showed people clinging to roof-tops as raging torrents swept through the streets.

    Military and rescue workers have been using helicopters to deliver essential supplies to areas that have had transport and communication links cut off.

    Some 17 helicopters were in action to airlift people out of the worst affected areas on Friday and more were being deployed over the weekend.

    Swathes of farmland have been inundated, and some power supplies have been cut after people were electrocuted by the water-borne current.

    Many of those hit hardest by the flooding are the rural poor who live in flood-prone areas because they cannot afford safer land.

    Pakistan has not made a formal request for international aid, but it is understood that it has appealed to donors to help it respond to this disaster.

    Afghan effort In Afghanistan, the national army said it had rescued 5,000 people over the past three days, using helicopters, vehicles and bulldozers.

    The provinces of Laghman, Nangarhar, Kunar and Logar have all been hit by the bad weather.

    There were plans to deliver food and medicine on Monday but the mountainous terrain was hindering the effort.

    In Eastern Logar province, a provincial spokesman told the BBC that 10 people had been killed overnight. Nomad communities had lost tents and livestock, he added.

    In Kama, Nangarhar, local resident Haji Baqi told the BBC: ''We lost all of our food.

    "I lost three wheat harvests, our bridges have been destroyed. We want the government to come and help. What will people eat for the rest of the year? Where is the government? When are they going to help us.''

  2. #2
    Mid is offline
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    Capital in grip of epidemics
    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Islamabad—Federal capital is in the grip of epidemics like conjunctivitis and gastroenteritis due to polluted water and rotten fruits and vegetables.

    Spokesman Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Dr Waseem Khawaja said that hundreds of patients visit the hospital daily and of them about 10% gastroenteritis and 15% eye sore cases were detected.

    He said that main causes of the rapid spread of the two epidemics was supply of polluted water and purchase of rotten fruits and vegetables as they cost almost half price and high prices of the two commodities was out of reach of the poor people.

    Dr Waseem Khawaja said that though change in weather was also responsible for spread of certain diseases however it has least role in this regard. He urged the citizens to assure consuming of clean water and avoid fast foods from vendors with substandard quality and unhygienic conditions.

    Boiled water can help a lot to avoid the diseases as most of the diseases initiate from stomach, he added. Dr Khawaja said that it is duty of each and every citizen to play his role in creating awareness among the illiterate people of the society advising them to avoid eating rotten fruits and vegetables as nothing else is precious than health of the human being.

    He said that those who were suffering from eye sore should use spectacles so as to avoid transfer of disease to other people.

    He said that in case of appearance of symptoms of gastro in children, parents should increase use of ORS do minimize the dehydration as most of the deaths reported due to the said disease were caused due to dehydration.—INP

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