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Pakistan To Speed Up Flood Aid As Country Braces For More Storms

Onlookers perched on a damaged bridge watch a Pakistani flood survivor climb a rope to cross a river in Pakistan's Swat Valley on August 3.
Pakistan's government held crisis talks today on flooding in the country's northwest as people braced for more storms that threaten to worsen a humanitarian disaster there.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani chaired the emergency cabinet meeting, telling his ministers to speed up relief work and estimates of damage.

UN aid workers say Pakistan's worst floods in years have affected more than 3 million people -- with a death toll from the devastating monsoon rains now topping 1,400 people and some 1 million displaced.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Washington has earmarked $10 million in aid besides other types of help.

"U.S. humanitarian relief experts have been deployed to the field, U.S. helicopters have already airlifted hundreds of people out of danger and delivered critical supplies, including hundreds of thousands of halal meals," Clinton said.

Pakistan's army says an operation to rescue communities cut off by devastating floods is "almost complete."

Major General Athar Abbas told the BBC the mission had been hampered by the weather, rejecting criticism that the authorities had been slow to respond.

UNICEF spokesman Abdul Sami Malik says 1.3 million people have been severely affected by floods in the northwest with many people displaced and entire villages washed away in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has meanwhile arrived in the United Kingdom for talks with senior British officials despite pressure for him to cancel the trip and return home to oversee relief and rescue efforts.

compiled from agency reports