Pakistan flooding 'from bad to worse'

Aug. 27, 2010 at 7:28 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Hundreds of thousands of people fled southern Pakistan Friday after the swollen Indus River broke through a levee and flooded new areas, officials said.

The situation in Sindh province is "getting from bad to worse," U.N. spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said, estimating about a million people have been displaced in Thatta and Qambar-Shadadkot districts since Wednesday, Pakistan's English-language newspaper Dawn reported.

In the city of Thatta, about 175,000 people -- nearly 70 percent of the population -- are believed to have left overnight, a government official said.

"We are delivering (aid) faster and faster, but the floods seemed determined to outrun our response," Giuliano said.

Work was being done to repair the levee and arrange transportation for people trying to leave. Officials said they were worried about historic grave sites, tombs and monuments from the Mughal Empire scattered throughout Sindh province.

Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo told the Pakistan Tribune waters were increasing pressure on a protective embankment in Garhi Khuda Bux. Officials reported embankments along the Indus downstream of Kotri in Thatta district were under severe pressure.

In northern Sindh, officials issued new evacuation orders for Shahdadkot, a town of about 300,000, the Pakistan Tribune said.

"Shahdadkot is certainly in danger," Sindh Relief Commissioner Riaz Ahmed Soomro said. "People have been asked to evacuate, but it's a very big town. People had built an artificial embankment but the pressure is increasing."

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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