Monsoon rains will continue for the next few days after ripping out bridges, roads and villages since late last week, said Nasir Khan, a Meteorological Department official in the provincial capital, Peshawar. Regions downstream in the Indus River valley, where most of Pakistan’s 162 million people live, braced for floods that may damage crops, according to the nation’s biggest agriculture body.
More than 1,600 people have died in Pakistan’s northwestern province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said Noor Muhammad, a press officer for the provincial development ministry.
Government and private relief agencies are managing to provide “only 5 percent of what’s required,” Mujahid Khan, provincial spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, which runs Pakistan’s largest ambulance and rescue services, said by phone from Peshawar.
Pakistani television channels showed flood survivors gathered at roadsides, seeking transport to nearby towns.
The floods, which according to U.K. charity Oxfam may be Pakistan’s worst in 35 years, may cut the production of rice, sugarcane and corn by about 10 percent to 15 percent, said Nasir Cheema, president of Pakistan’s Chamber of Agriculture.
Pakistani television networks showed survivors clinging to trees or debris in muddy, raging mountain rivers. Armed forces chief Ashraf Pervez Kayani yesterday visited flooded areas of the Swat Valley and his helicopter evacuated 17 residents, the army said on its website.
Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, a two-time prime minister, criticized Zardari for pursuing a trip to France and the U.K. this week. His absence flies in the face of “the worst flooding in the country’s history,” Sharif said on the GEO television news channel.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who toured the stricken province by air, ordered the government to provide food to people at safe locations.
BBC Urdu will transmit six daily bulletins in Urdu and Pashto providing vital information including how to stay safe, avoid disease and access aid. Special programmes will be broadcast each day in Urdu at 12.30, 15.30 and 18.30 and in Pashto at 12.45, 15.45 and 18.45 (local times).
“Our current team consists of 40 volunteers and we feel confident that with the support of donors, we can reach thousands of needy families affected by the flooding.”