Pakistan’s prime minister has demanded his cabinet speed up relief to 3.2 million people hit by the worst floods in 80 years as devastation spread when floodwaters surged into the south of the country.
Yousuf Raza Gilani, prime minister, told his cabinet to speed up relief work and try and estimate the financial scale of the damage.
Continuing heavy rain in the northwest triggered more flood warnings and some 15,000 houses were destroyed in the south as rivers carried the floodwaters into Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Survivors were facing starvation after four-fifths of food stocks had been washed away, the United Nations’ World Food Programme warned.
Punjab is Pakistan’s most populous area and contains nearly three fifths of the nation’s people. It is also holds swathes of farmland, earning it a reputation as the country’s breadbasket.
Flood waters receded in the worst hit northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, but the area remained devastated by landslides and flash floods from last week’s record monsoon that dumped a foot of rain in 36 hours.
In southern Punjab more than 130,000 people were evacuated by the army, but fears for further casualties grew as many were stranded when they ignored flood warnings.
At least 1.1 million acres of crops have been destroyed in the Punjab agricultural heartland alone the National Disaster Management Authority said.
“Announcements were made in mosques and army people were telling us about the forthcoming flood, but we thought that they were just scaring us,” said Nazir Sahoo sitting on the roof of his nearly submerged single-storey house.
Flood warnings had also been given in southern Sindh province as waters steadily rose.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, provincial information minister, said: “Certain areas of the province are under eminent threat of starvation as the shattering of infrastructure is still thwarting any access to these localities.”
The main opposition leader has increased pressure on the struggling government, criticising President Asif Ali Zardari for not cutting short a trip to Britain.
Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said: “We have been let down very badly by Mr Zardari.
“The government has failed to perform its duty in the crisis. They should have used all their resources to help the flood victims,” he added.
By Ben Farmer in Kabul and Khalid Khan in Peshawar
Published: 4:53PM BST 04 Aug 2010
Source: The Telegraph