Home »General News » Pakistan » Rains and avalanches toll hits 640

The death toll from two weeks of torrential rains and snow in the country jumped to at least 640 on Thursday, officials said, while affected areas called for more aid. Authorities in blizzard-hit northwestern areas reported 100 more deaths in the last 24 hours as bodies were pulled out from snowdrifts and collapsed houses, bringing the total there to 393. At least 180 people have died in Balochistan after heavy flooding and a number of devastating dam bursts, which washed away entire villages, provincial relief officials said.

A further 67 have died in avalanches in Azad Kashmir, according to officials.

Army, navy and air force have conducted major relief operations at both ends of the country since the rain and snow began on February 3, while civilian aid agencies have also helped.

Officials have warned both of possible disease outbreaks and of food shortages in the worst hit areas, while tens of thousands of people have been left homeless.

"We have requested non-governmental organizations to join government relief efforts," said NWFP deputy relief commissioner Ghulam Gilani as he revealed the latest figures in his area.

The World Health Organisation is leading aid efforts in the province with other UN and international agencies. An assessment of the damage caused by the snow and rain is in progress, a UN official told AFP in Islamabad.

He added that 1,200 blankets were dispatched to scenic Swat valley and a truck containing food, blankets and tents left for the hill resort of Abbottabad.

In Balochistan 100 people were now known to have died when the 25-metre-high (83-foot) Shadi Kor Dam near the coastal town of Pasni ruptured, said Raziq Bugti, media consultant to the provincial chief minister.

Another 80 people have been killed in widespread flooding across the normally arid province, Bugti said.

Meanwhile the death of a young boy when the roof of his home collapsed on Thursday brought the toll in Azad Kashmir to 67, with 132 injured, senior police officer Raja Ghulam Sarwar told AFP.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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