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Thousands flee amid new flood alert

Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis were fleeing a southern region after the bloated Indus River crushed an embankment and flooded new areas, officials said.

The latest evacuations were ordered in Thatta district of Sindh province, the site of many historic graves, tombs and other sites linked to the Mughal Empire that once ruled the subcontinent.

In the city of Thatta, around 175,000 people - around 70% of the city's population - were believed to have packed up and left, said Manzoor Sheikh, a senior government official. Authorities are trying to repair the broken levee and arrange transport for people trying to leave.

UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said according to reports received by the world body, around a million people had been displaced in Thatta and Qambar-Shadadkot districts since Wednesday.

UN aid agencies along with a host of other relief groups have been rushing people and supplies to affected regions as the flooding has lashed Pakistan over the past month.

The situation in Sindh "is getting from bad to worse", Mr Giuliano said. "We are delivering (aid) faster and faster, but the floods seemed determined to outrun our response."

The floods began with the onset of the monsoon and have ravaged a massive swathe of Pakistan, from the mountainous north to its agricultural heartland. Almost 17.2 million people have been significantly affected by the floods and about 1.2 million homes have been destroyed or badly damaged, the UN has said.

The Pakistani Taliban has hinted that it might attack foreign aid workers, a swelling number of whom have been landing in the country to help with the crisis. The militant network has a history of attacking aid groups, including agencies under the UN umbrella.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq claimed that the US and other countries that have pledged support are not really focused on providing aid to flood victims but have other motives he did not specify.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the UN remains committed to helping flood victims in Pakistan.

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