Mass displacement under way in Pakistan

Aug. 27, 2010 at 11:12 AM

KARACHI, Pakistan, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Authorities in the historic city of Thatta in Pakistan's province of Sindh said residents were ordered to leave the area because of rising floodwaters.

The United Nations said around 1 million people are displaced by floods ravaging parts of Pakistan and another 8 million are in need of urgent humanitarian relief.

Leaders in Sindh ordered roughly 400,000 people to leave their homes after the Indus River broke its bank, Pakistani newspaper The News International reports. Government officials said around 70 percent of the regional population fled the area overnight.

Saifullah Dharejo, the provincial irrigation minister, said floodwaters were threatening to inundate the village where the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is buried.

"We have strengthened the embankment because we don't want mausoleums of our martyrs to be flooded," he said.

Maurizio Giuliano, a U.N. spokesman, was quoted in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper as saying the situation in Sindh province is going "from bad to worse." Authorities said Thursday many of the supply routes through Pakistan to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan were cut off by the flooding.

The monsoon-fed flooding began in late July. About 1,600 people have died and about 17 million have been affected across the country, U.N. estimates indicate.

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