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Floods Force a Million Pakistanis From Homes as More Rain Seen

Floods have forced more than one million people from their homes and damaged crops in parts of southern Pakistan still recovering from last year’s worst ever monsoon inundations that devastated the region.

Towns “have been declared calamity-hit,” Waqar Mehdi, a special assistant to the chief minister of Sindh province, said today by phone in Karachi. Most of those affected are sleeping on roads elevated above the flood waters, with a smaller number in relief camps, Syed Sajjad Hayder Shah, director of operations at the Provincial Disaster Management Authority for Sindh, said.

“The situation is under control as the number of internally displaced people is just over 50,000,” Shah said in an interview in his office. “Anything above that would mean an SOS call to the non-government organizations for help.”

Floods last year displaced nearly 20 million people across the country and caused more than $9 billion in damage to roads, bridges and farms. Pakistan’s Meteorological Office said June 14 rains this year will be 10 percent below the average.

Still, “thousands of acres of agricultural land have been destroyed because of the latest bout of floods,” Shah said. “Crops of cotton, sugarcane, rice, melon and red chilies have been affected.”

Rains may lower output estimates in Sindh to 4 million cotton bales for this year from an expected 5 million earlier, said Mian Rashid Mehmood, vice chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association, in a phone interview today.

Army Rescue

Members of the army and navy are evacuating people from the Badin, Thatta and Hyderabad districts among others, the Geo television channel reported yesterday.

“We have sent packaged food and equipment to help local officials pump out water,” Shah said. “There are fears of a disease outbreak since a lot of the livestock has also been lost and their carcasses are flowing in the flood waters.”

Stomach ailments and snake bites have been reported in the region. “We have reports that between 25 and 28 people have died because of these floods,” Mehdi said.

Rains will continue for the next two to three days, Shah said in a statement on his department’s website.

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