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New rain as three million hit by Pakistan floods

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 03 August 2010

Devastating floods in Pakistan have affected more than three million people, leaving more than 1,400 dead. Speaking from the country, the Red Cross tells Channel 4 News new areas could be hit as the rain begins to fall again.

Devastating floods in Pakistan have affected more than three million people with the death toll climbing to over 1,400. (Getty)

Pakistan's worst floods in 80 years have left over 1,400 dead and affected more then three million people so far, a spokesman for the UN Children's Fund said today.

Abdul Sami Malik said 1.3 million people were severely affected by the floods in the northwest and struggling for food, water and shelter.  

Governments worldwide have pledged aid and money to help with the recovery and Channel 4 News has learned the Disasters Emergency Committee, which acts as an umbrella organisation for 13 different humanitarian aid agencies, is to launch an appeal on Thursday.

But there are fears from aid workers on the ground that the continuing rain will devastate new areas, and worsen already horrendous flooding in the northwest.

Dr Anthony Morris, acting head of delegation in Pakistan for the International Federation of the Red Cross, told Channel 4 News: "The situation is critical. It is expected to rain again, it is already raining in Islamabad, and it will rain for a couple more weeks as part of the heavy monsoon period.

"The flood waters have not subsided in the areas which have already been hit in the west. There are now fears of flooding in the south as well."   

Pakistani authorities are struggling to help victims of the flooding, many of whom have lost their homes and livelihood and say they had not received any official warnings that raging waters were heading their way.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said there had been one confirmed case of cholera in Swat.

President Asif Ali Zardari has come under pressure to cancel a current European tour. He arrived in London today on a five-day visit to the UK where he is expected to confront David Cameron over his critical comments about elements of Pakistan promoting the "export" of terrorism. Zardari also claimed in a newspaper report today that the international community is "losing the war against the Taliban" in Afghanistan.

Situation could worsen as aid workers wade through water to help victims
We are working closely with our sister organisation on the ground, the Pakistani Red Crescent, the government and other aid agencies to deliver emergency aid: water, food and shelter, Dr Anthony Morris, acting head of the delegation in Pakistan for the International Federation of the Red Cross, told Channel 4 News.

The situation is critical. It is expected to rain again, it is already raining in Islamabad, from where I am speaking, and it will rain for a couple more weeks as part of the heavy monsoon period.

The flood waters have not subsided in the areas which have already been hit in the west. There are now fears of flooding in other areas.

The stories we are hearing are all that the death toll is rising, and it could increase. There is concern that the infrastructure will buckle in other areas as well. In the Sindh province, in the south of the country, we are now concerned that there could be more flooding.

These are extremely poor, remote areas - very vulnerable communities. And it's hard to reach them - to Peshawar, in the northwest, the main road has been cut off for a couple of days.

All the aid agencies are trying to get in. We are working very closely with the Pakistani Red Crescent as they were already there, in the area. They were prepared, with volunteers, and they just had to flick the switch. They are locals, who are already in these areas, and I've heard they were the first on the scene, wading up to their armpits in water.

But they have limited resources and they are running out, which is why we have launched our appeal so we can get food and water and then we can get it to them.

Aid agencies and Pakistani government officials met today to determine whether to make an urgent international appeal for help. Islamist charities, some with suspected ties to militants, have stepped in to provide help, piling pressure on the government to show it can take control of the crisis.

Pakistan's administration is under pressure and is heavily dependent on foreign aid, having a poor record in crisis management, whether fighting Taliban insurgents or easing chronic power cuts.

Anguish for families
Pictures of Pakistan's flooded valleys run non-stop on televisions in inner-city Birmingham, as Channel 4 News speaks to British Pakistanis whose families are caught in the flood.

The charity Islamic Relief, founded in Birmingham during the 1980s, has launched a £2m appeal for flood victims in Pakistan.

The first part of the appeal is to help people with life-saving items - tents, blankets, bed sheets, water purification tablets and all they need to save their lives.

Birmingham residents have already donated thousands of pounds, with many – unable to reach their families due to cut off phone lines – hoping that the charity will reach their relatives.

Channel 4 News learnt yesterday that the Taliban announced a suspension of attacks in flood-hit areas of the country.

Authorities expect the death toll to rise, with forecasts of more of the heavy monsoon rains that have been lashing the area for the past week. Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority said more than 29,500 houses were damaged and a key trade highway to China was blocked by flooding.

Waters have receded in some flooded areas but not in all. UNICEF expressed concern that waters were spreading from to a major food-producing province.

World Vision told Channel 4 News that with more rain on the way relief workers are struggling to help the thousands of victims at need.

"Our fear is that the worst is yet to come as the rain continues to fall and we struggle to reach people in remote areas," says Muhammad Ali from World Vision in Pakistan.

The charity said the most at risk are children and women who are suffering from poor health and unhygienic conditions.

"There is a real danger of the spread of water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, asthma, skin allergies and possibly cholera in these areas," Shaharyar Bangash, programme manager, World Vision Pakistan, said.

Medecins Sans Frontieres said it would send cargo plane by the end of the week carrying 50 tonnes of water and sanitation material, logistics material and cholera kits.  

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