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Levee fears for south Pakistan city

Floodwaters have made another break in the levees protecting a southern Pakistani city, as thousands of residents fled for high ground and left the city nearly empty.

Both sides of the main road were crowded with people from Thatta and nearby flooded villages fleeing the floodwaters. Many had spent the night sleeping out in the open.

Hadi Baksh Kalhoro, a Thatta disaster management official, said more than 175,000 people had left the city, leaving few behind.

Some are heading for nearby towns or cities, he said, with thousands also headed for the high ground of an ancient graveyard for Muslim saints.

He said the latest levee breach could leave the outskirts of Thatta flooded later over the weekend. The city is about 75 miles south east of the major coastal city of Karachi.

The floods began in the mountainous north west about a month ago with the onset of monsoon rains and have moved slowly down the country toward the coast in the south, inundating vast swaths of prime agricultural land and damaging or destroying more than one million homes.

More than eight million people are in need of emergency assistance across the country.

The United Nations, the Pakistani army and a host of local and international relief groups have been rushing aid workers, medicine, food and water to the affected regions, but are unable to reach many people.

Flood victims blocked a road in Thatta to protest the shortage of aid, most of which is randomly thrown from trucks into crowds of needy people.

"The people who come here to give us food treat us like beggars. They just throw the food. It is humiliating," said 80-year-old Karima, who uses only one name. She was living in the graveyard with more than two dozen relatives.

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