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Rescue efforts continue amid floods

Rescuers in three countries across Asia have struggled to reach survivors from massive flooding that afflicted millions of people, as the death toll climbed in a remote Chinese town where hundreds died and more than 1,100 were missing from landslides.

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

Rescuers in mountainous Indian-controlled Kashmir raced to save dozens of stranded foreign trekkers and find 500 people still missing in flash floods that killed 140.

In China, the death toll jumped to 337 late on Monday after Sunday's landslides in the north-western province of Gansu - the deadliest incident so far in the country's worst flooding in a decade. A debris-blocked swollen river burst, swamping entire mountain villages in the county seat of Zhouqu and ripping homes from their foundations.

"There were some, but very few, survivors. Most of them are dead, crushed into the earth," said survivor Guo Wentao.

The government said 1,148 were missing. 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, where one-third of residents are ethnic Tibetan. 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. In one province alone, Jilin in the north, nearly two million people were evacuated because of flooding.

In Pakistan, two weeks of flooding have killed 1,500. The UN estimated that 13.8 million people have been affected. The figures include people who need short-term or long-term aid.

"It looks like the number of people affected in this crisis is higher than the Haiti earthquake, the tsunami or the Pakistan earthquake, and if the toll is as high as the one given by the government, it is higher than the three of them combined," Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from flash floods in the remote desert mountainsides in Indian-controlled Kashmir stands at 140. The dead included five foreigners, but their nationalities were not immediately known. An estimated 500 more people were missing.


From Belfast Telegraph