Floods kill hundreds in Pakistan, India

Flash floods triggered by torrential rains have killed at least 120 people in Pakistan’s North West Frontier province (NWFP), and forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes in neighbouring India, officials said on Monday.

The floods played havoc in five districts of Pakistan’s NWFP, including two that were badly hit by a devastating earthquake last year, submerging hundreds of villages and causing extensive property damage.

“The situation is worse than last year, as the rains triggered more flash floods this time in our five districts,” NWFP information minister Asif Iqbal Khan said. “The floods have swept away mud houses and people.”

By Monday rescuers had recovered 43 bodies in Mardan, the second-biggest city in the province, after a bridge overflowing with people collapsed on Saturday. Iqbal Khan said about 100 people were still missing in the incident.

He said incessant rains and floods could lead to the spread of diseases such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections, especially among children. “We are trying our best to provide food and medicines to every affected person but still there is a threat of an epidemic.”

The meteorological department warned of floods in the southern Sindh province, and local authorities have been ordered to evacuate people living on river banks and low-lying areas.

Torrential rains and heavy flooding have already caused extensive damage in Pakistani Kashmir, parts of which were also hit by last year’s earthquake, forcing about 6 000 people living in mountainous areas to move to camps.

India

In neighbouring India, authorities used helicopters to drop food and water to some of the hundreds of thousands of people forced from their homes by floods in the country’s south and west, as rains disrupted life in the nation’s financial capital.

In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where 100 people have died in four days of torrential monsoon rains, swollen rivers have swamped hundreds of towns and villages, forcing people to take refuge on rooftops and in trees, officials said.

Authorities say at least one million people have been displaced and rescuers were using boats to reach those stranded in the three districts of the state.

In the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat, heavy showers in the past two days have killed at least 21 people, damaged crops and disrupted life in the financial capital, Mumbai.

Millions waded to work in Mumbai through muddy water waist-deep in places. Roads and railway tracks were flooded after the city’s drainage system failed to flush out storm water.

Suburban train services — the transport mainstay for the city’s 17-million people — were running behind schedule. Some long-distance trains had been rescheduled, but flights were operating on time. — Reuters

Additional reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee in Mumbai, Radha Kumar in Hyderabad and Rupam Jain Nair in Ahmedabad

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