Deadly floods hit Pakistan

BY HENRY BRIER | BALTIMORE | July 27, 2001


Hundreds of people are dead and missing in northern Pakistan after

torrential rains caused flash flooding and mudslides to destroy

various villages in this country located in the Asian subcontinent.

Assessment teams have been working in Pakistan for two days,

providing shelter needs as well as edible commodities, according to

Donna Derr, associate director of Church World Service international

emergency response.

"Pakistani meteorologists said it was the heaviest rain in 100

years," Derr said, noting nearly 25-inches of precipitation fell from

the skies on Monday in about six hours.

The Nullah Leh, a river that passes through most of the city of

Rawalpindi, crossed the 28-ft mark, which is beyond record-breaking.

More than 200 people have died and almost 1,500 livestock washed away

since Monday, when the torrential rains and flash floods first

occurred.

Reports indicate that thousands of homes are either destroyed or

severely damaged.

Various area hospitals were closed, causing overcrowding at hospitals

that remained open and in operation.

Mudslides have been flowing as a result of the flooding, washing away

personal property in its path.

The northern area of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, also was

afflicted with flooding.

Now in monsoon season, Pakistan has suffered severe droughts for the

past three years, providing groundsoil the inability to absorb the

deluge of rain, according to Action by Churches Together.

Derr said the assessment teams are providing tarps, blankets and

bedding, as well as one-month food packages of oil, rice, beans,

peas, tea and sugar.

The financial investment thus far in relief supplies to Pakistan is

more than $150,000, she said.

In addition to Rawalpindi and Islamabad, other hard hit Pakistani

regions are Mansehra and Swat.

Some Rawalpindi streets were beneath 10 feet of water. Swat had a lot

of damage but it wasn't washed away, she said. A village of Mansehra

was damaged most severely because the whole site practically was

washed away.

Mansehra was a home for refugees from Afghnistan, located northwest

of Pakistan. Southeast of Pakistan is India, a majority Hindu nation

from which Islamic Pakistan broke away before the middle of last

century.

Kashmir, currently Indian terrain over which the two countries

battle, was a recent topic of political conversation between the

leaders of the two countries.

Both Pakistan and Indian maintain strong national and religious

identities, but Pakistan is not as politically secure.

Derr said Pakistanis are receptive to the assistance the assessment

teams provide.

"They are very eager to help one another," she said. "They are eager

to work with us."

She said the initial efforts revolve around relief, which is

anticipated to be completed by Saturday. The most important aspect is

short-term shelter.

The following step will be long-term rehabilitation, which is

expected to commence within a week, Derr said.


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