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Warning on Pakistan flood threats

The devastating floods in Pakistan are unlikely to recede fully for almost a fortnight, the country's top forecaster has warned.

The grim prediction for the more than 20 million people made homeless or otherwise affected by the deluge came from senior meteorologist Arif Mahmood, who said existing river torrents were still heading to major cities such as Hyderabad and Sukkur in the south and could yet cause more floods.

No heavy rains have been forecast this week, with Mahmood describing it as "good news" for aid agencies involved in the rescue and relief operations.

The floods that began three weeks ago have submerged tens of thousands of villages, killed around 1,500 people and affected 20 million others as they covered a fifth of the country's land. They hit first in the north-west, wiping out much of its infrastructure, and then the swollen rivers gushed toward the south and the east, displacing millions more.

United Nations (UN) officials appealed last week for 459 million dollars in international aid for immediate relief to Pakistan. Aid groups have complained that the response so far has been weak but the UN said on Wednesday that more than half of the money had come in.

On Tuesday, Islamic militants killed two members of an anti-Taliban militia in the Adezai area of Peshawar as they headed to pray at a mosque.

Shortly afterwards dozens of militants from the Khyber tribal region, which lies near Peshawar and along the Afghan border, attacked police posts in the Sarband area. Several militants were killed but there were no police casualties.

The military, meanwhile, has 60,000 troops dealing with flood relief. Many of those soldiers would normally be battling insurgents or holding territory they had already cleared.

President Asif Ali Zardari is in Russia on Wednesday for a regional summit. He is expected to stay only a few hours before returning.


From Belfast Telegraph