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Deaths reported as heavy rains lash northwestern districts

Rain water still floods villages and streets in Balochistan.
Kamila Hyat/IRIN

Torrential rain in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has swept at least 22 people to their deaths.

The deaths occurred in northern NWFP, in the remote Kohistan District, after heavy rains on 8 July triggered landslides and flooding in the area, blocking the Pakistan-China road at several points. Casualties were also reported in villages around the main town of Kohistan District, Besham, about 275km northwest of Islamabad.

According to Mohammad Hamid, 35, a trader in Besham, “Local people spent hours pulling bodies from the mud and debris of their homes.”

It has also been reported that at least 500 people have been displaced or made homeless by the rains, which swept away houses in villages perched on hillsides.

“Work has started to clear the Karakorum Highway, which is blocked in many places. This will also make the task of ascertaining damage and assisting people easier,” said Brig Mohammad Naeem of the Pakistan army, who is supervising the operation to clear roads and organise repairs in the area.

Dir valley ravaged

The unexpectedly heavy rains have also ravaged the picturesque valley of Dir, in northwestern NWFP. The rains, accompanied by strong winds and lightning, are reported to have damaged infrastructure, farmland and property.

“I have heard that houses have fallen down and roads been swept away,” Muhammad Khan, 40, a resident of Namlai village in Upper Dir, told IRIN in Peshawar.

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Khan said he had been attempting to return to his home since early on 9 July, but this was difficult “because roads and bridges have been swept away”.

Some roads and at least four bridges have been destroyed and people in the Dir area have been stranded.

“It is the damage to fruit trees, crops and livestock that affects people most in the long term,” said Khan.

Dir is known for its fruit orchards, and lightning is reported to have caused extensive damage in the area.

Peshawar hit

People in the provincial capital, Peshawar, have been criticising the government for failing to help people, even in and around the city.

“The rains at the end of June created swollen rivers and our houses have been inundated,” said Abdul Jan, 22, who lives in a suburb of Peshawar.

Since the end of June, at least 60 people have reportedly been killed across the NWFP as a result of the rains.

More heavy rain forecast

Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry, director-general of Pakistan’s Meteorological Services, said “heavy monsoon rains” could be expected over the coming days in NWFP and other parts of the country.

''Not only has the government not done enough but relief teams from international organisations have not been allowed access to flood-hit areas either. ''

Meanwhile, relief operations are continuing in flood-affected areas of Balochistan and Sindh provinces, with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf on 8 July calling on the federal government to “convene an international donors’ meeting” for the relief and rehabilitation of flood-affected people in the area.

At least 200 people are now feared dead in the province, while at a meeting in Quetta on 8 July, the Balochistan Coordinating Council (BCC), made up of 85 non-government organisations (NGOs), criticised the federal government for not doing enough in Balochistan.

Mohammad Tehseen, director of the Lahore-based NGO South Asian Partnership (SAP-PK), said: “Not only has the government not done enough but relief teams from international organisations have not been allowed access to flood-hit areas either.”

kh/at/ar/cb

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