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New flooding woes for Pakistan town

Floodwaters have inundated a large town in southern Pakistan, spreading further destruction in an area where hundreds of thousands of people who fled to higher ground are in dire need of food and water.

Almost all of Sujawal's 250,000 residents fled from the town before the water rushed in, but the damage to homes, clinics and schools added to the widespread devastation the floods have caused across Pakistan, said Hadi Baksh, a disaster management official in southern Sindh province.

Authorities in Sujawal were trying to limit the damage, but the water level has already risen to 5ft (1.5m) in the centre of town and up to 10ft (3m) in the surrounding villages, said Anwarul Haq, the top official in Sujawal.

The floodwaters also threatened Thatta, one of the major cities in southern Sindh and the base of operations for local authorities trying to cope with a disaster that has overwhelmed the Pakistani government and international partners who have stepped in to help.

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 a 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 sending aid workers, medicine, food and water to the affected regions, but are unable to reach many people.

The US said it would deploy an additional 18 helicopters to help the relief effort. The US military is already operating 15 helicopters and three C-130 aircraft in the country, the US Embassy said in a statement.

The floodwaters that hit Sujawal surged into the town after breaking through a levee on the swollen Indus River two days ago. The water also flooded parts of the main road connecting Sujawal and Thatta, said Baksh.

Many of the people who fled Sujawal, located about 90 miles south-east of Karachi, the capital of Sindh, headed to Makli, a hill near Thatta that contains a vast Muslim graveyard.

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