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Further flooding hits Pakistan

Flood waters have surged into Pakistan's heartland and swallowed dozens of villages, adding to a week of destruction that has already ravaged the mountainous north west and killed 1,500 people.

The rush of muddy water over river banks in Punjab threatened to destroy vast stretches of crops that make the province Pakistan's breadbasket, prompting the UN to warn that an estimated 1.8 million people will need to be fed in the coming weeks.

Adding to the misery, fresh rains in the north west threatened to overwhelm a major dam and unleash a new deluge, while rescue workers struggled to deliver aid to some 3.2 million people affected by the floods despite washed-out bridges and roads and downed communication lines.

The government has struggled to cope with the scale of the disaster at a time when it is grappling with a faltering economy and a brutal war against the Taliban.

Several foreign countries and aid organisations have stepped in to support the government, including the United States, which announced that it was sending six large military helicopters from Afghanistan to help with the relief effort.

But many flood victims have complained that aid is not reaching them fast enough or at all. That anger could grow as flood waters surge through the Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province.

Water levels were so high in large tracts of Kot Addu and the nearby area of Layyah in the south of the province, that only treetops and uppermost floors of some buildings were visible, footage shot on a helicopter showed. People sought refuge on rooftops and tried to bring their livestock up as far as possible.

Punjab is home to many of Pakistan's largest farms, and the loss of so many crops was one reason the UN's World Food Programme estimated 1.8 million Pakistanis would need food assistance for at least the next month.

In the north west, new downpours threatened to exacerbate flooding that was already the worst in generations. Of the 3.2 million people affected by flooding, 2.5 million live in the north west, Unicef spokesman Marco Jimenez said in Geneva.

Rain is forecast for the next few days in the province and also in the Punjab, said the head of Pakistan's meteorological department, Qamar-us-Zaman Chaudhry.


From Belfast Telegraph