Flash floods kill 550 in Pakistan in heaviest rains in decades

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Flash floods caused by abnormally heavy monsoon rains killed at least 549 people in Pakistan over the past month, with remote communities in the impoverished southwestern province of Balochistan among the hardest hit, a government agency said.

Government agencies and the army have set up aid and relief camps in flood-hit regions and were working to help relocate families and provide food and medicine.

Aside from the fatalities, the flooding had damaged more than 46,200 houses, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said on Friday.

“We’re doing our best to provide for extensive relief and rehabilitation of flood victims,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said during visit to stricken areas.

But the Balochistan provincial government said it needed more funds and appealed to international organizations for assistance.

“Our losses are massive,” the province’s Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bezenjo said. There were food shortages in every district hit by the flooding, with some also disconnected from the rest of the province due to more than 700 kilometres of roads being washed away.

Bezenjo said his province needed “huge assistance” from the government and from international aid agencies.

The past month was the wettest in three decades, with 133% more rain than the average for the past 30 years, the NDMA said. Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, received 305% more rain than the annual average, the disaster agency said.

Reporting by Asif Shahzad in Islamabad and Gul Yousafzai in Quetta; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Hugh Lawson

Local residents stand at an area affected by flash floods following heavy monsoon rains, in Rawlakot, Pakistani administered Kashmir, Pakistan. Pakistan ranks among the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. EPA-EFE/AMIRUDDIN MUGHAL

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