Wed, Feb 16, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Pakistani flood death toll hits 500; 1,500 missing

DPA , Islamabad

The death toll from more than a week of incessant rains and floods in Pakistan rose to 500 as authorities yesterday confirmed at least 232 fatalities in Northwest Frontier Province.

The meteorological office forecasts another four-day spell of rain and snowfall after a low-pressure system entered into Pakistan yesterday.

Province relief commission official Ghulam Rafiq told reporters that most of the fatalities took place in remote mountainous towns, including Kalam, Kaghan, Dir, Malakand and Malumjabba, where recorded minimum snowfall had been 2m since Feb. 3.

Rafiq said 173 people were injured in various rain-related incidents.

Flash floods triggered by dam and embankment bursts and torrential rains affected more than 34,000 people in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan Province.

Government officials in Quetta, the provincial capital, confirmed at least 250 casualties, among them 173 victims of a dam burst near Pasni, and 1,500 missing.

Chief Minister Jam Muhammad Yousaf said torrential rains had damaged at least 6,000 homes and vast swathes of standing crops.

Yousaf said potable water and food were being air-dropped to people stranded at various locations. Roads and telecommunications have also been severely hit by the rains.

Balochistan had been facing a drought-like situation for several years, with underground water levels sinking to dangerous levels, and most of the dams and lakes almost dried up.

But the recent rains and snow have not only broken the protracted dry spell, but also burst embankments of some dams, with water levels at some dams, including the Angola dam in Jauni district and the Hangol rain-fed stream, rising to dangerous levels.

The casualties in northern Pakistan have meanwhile risen to at least 59, with one avalanche in people.

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