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Thousands flee amid flood alerts

Thousands of people are fleeing a major city in central Pakistan after authorities warned that swollen rivers could soon submerge the area.

The warning is the latest in a series of flood alerts across Asia which have killed thousands and affected millions.

Authorities in Muzaffargarh, a major city in Punjab, issued warnings to residents using loudspeakers on Monday night, sparking scenes one police official described as "chaos" as people left the city for higher ground or other towns.

The United Nations said Pakistan's latest estimate of 13.8 million people being affected by the country's worst-ever floods exceeded the combined total of three recent major disasters - the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Elsewhere in Asia, rescuers in China digging by hand through thick mud in a remote town in the north-western province of Gansu found a man who had been trapped by flooding for more than 50 hours.

The 52-year-old had been stuck inside a collapsed apartment building following landslides which have killed hundreds and left more than 1,100 missing, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Rescuers with sniffer dogs discovered the man, who was weak but breathing normally.

The death toll in the country jumped to 337 late on Monday after Sunday's landslides in Gansu - the deadliest incident so far in the country's worst flooding in a decade.

The government said 1,148 people were missing and about 45,000 were evacuated. It was not known how many of the missing were in danger or simply out of contact as workers rushed to restore communications in the area. More rain is expected in the region over the next three days, the China Meteorological Administration said.

Flooding in China has killed more than 1,100 people this year and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.

Flash floods also hit the desert mountainsides of Indian-controlled Kashmir, with the death toll in the region rising to 165. Thousands of army and paramilitary soldiers continued clearing roads and removing the debris of hundreds of homes flattened in the Ladakh region by Friday's powerful thunderstorms. About 200 remained missing, said Lieutenant Colonel JS Brar, an army spokesman. With the road links being restored, nearly 300 people who fled to higher ground have returned to their homes, he said.

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