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Rain Complicates Pakistani Aid, Rescue Effort


The worst floods in Pakistani history have uprooted millions of people.
New heavy rain in Pakistan is hurting efforts to help residents suffering as a result of severe flooding.

The rain has disrupted helicopter flights by the military, which is leading relief and rescue efforts.

More than 10 million people across the country have been affected by the worst floods in 80 years. The floods have killed at least 1,600 people, swept away houses, and ruined crops.

In the southern province of Sindh, where up to a million people have been evacuated, water has burst through river embankments and at least one dam has been breached.

Many are living in the open with little food or drinking water. In the village of Ghotki, resident Mohammad Murad said all his family's possessions were carried away in the floods.

"We could save just some of our cattle; the rest were carried away by the water," Murad said. "We have very little to eat. We're just concerned about food and nothing else."

Pakistan's meteorological service is forecasting at least two more days of rain in Sindh, where roads have been ruined and bridges swept away, leaving survivors isolated.

But some of the worst-hit regions are in the country's northwest. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, one of the most affected, conditions are miserable and worsening. Most of the displaced are crammed into schools and other public buildings.

In the camp of Utmanzai, one of hundreds others like it, rain pelts makeshift tents where drenched victims huddle together and barefoot children play in the mud.

"Tents have been erected over our houses, but we've received no other help," said Tahir Khan, whose house collapsed in the floods. "Relief is coming from all over the world, but the army hasn't given us anything. We haven't received any of the relief goods coming from America."

Many countries have answered Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's appeal for international aid. The United States is diverting helicopters and troops from neighboring Afghanistan and NATO says it will coordinate relief supplies from member countries.

The floods have been caused by annual monsoon rains that began in the northwest before moving south to much of the rest of the country. The authorities say 650,000 homes have been destroyed.

President Asif Ali Zardari, who is in Britain, has rejected heavy criticism for refusing to cut short an extended trip to Europe. He said the prime minister was handling the crisis.

Flooding is affecting other countries, too. Several Indian provinces have been flooded, including the Himalayan region of Ladakh, where more than 130 people have been killed. In China, a massive mudslide today killed 100 people and left 2,000 missing when it buried a town in the northwest of the country.

compiled from agency reports