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Navy helps Pakistan flood victims as cost of food skyrockets

By Andrew Buncombe

Pakistan's navy sailed to the rescue of people stranded by devastating floods yesterday, while in India rescuers dug through destroyed homes and piles of mud after landslides in the remote north killed about 130 people and left more than 500 missing.

Using rubber and wooden vessels, the troops patrolled parts of Sindh province where people struggled chest-deep through water with their possessions on their heads and their chickens.

“We have been doing this for several days,” naval officer Akhter Mahmood told Reuters after his boat had travelled through more than a dozen miles of floodwater.

The floods that have left an estimated 1,600 people dead and affected more than 13 million people, have wrecked 1.4 million acres of agricultural land in India's breadbasket, Punjab.

Food prices have leapt up, causing added hardship. The cost of staples such as tomatoes, onions and potatoes has in some cases increased fourfold in recent days, putting them out of reach for many Pakistanis.

This, coupled with anger about the seemingly inadequate response of the authorities to the worst floods in more than 80 years, will add to the pressure on the government as it struggles to respond to the disaster.

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