Death toll rises in Pakistan floods

Aug. 28, 2010 at 12:51 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Nearly 1,700 people have died in flooding that has destroyed more than 1.2 million homes, leaving millions homeless in Pakistan, officials say.

The number of dead is expected to rise as floodwaters start to recede, and relief agencies fear the crisis is outpacing rescue efforts, CNN said Saturday.

"The magnitude of this crisis is reaching levels that are even beyond our initial fears, which were already leaning toward what we thought would be the worst," said Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "The number of those affected and those in need of assistance from us are bound to keep rising. The floods seem determined to outrun our response."

Contaminated water is also responsible for widespread acute watery diarrhea, scabies and respiratory infections, while clean drinking water is often in short supply, the report said.

Officials are concerned that more children will die from malnutrition, which was high before the floods began, officials said.

"The flooding has surrounded millions of children with contaminated water," said Karen Allen, deputy representative of the U.N. Children's Fund in Pakistan. "Most have nothing else to drink."

More than $1 billion in aid has been given or pledged, and officials in the United States said an additional 18 helicopters would be deployed to assist in relief efforts.

More than 17 million Pakistanis have been affected by the floods caused by monsoon rains that started a month ago, and the World Health Organization said at least 200 health facilities across the country have been damaged or destroyed.

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