PESHAWAR // The death toll in three days of flooding in Pakistan reached at least 313 today, rescue and government officials said, as rains bloated rivers, submerged villages, and triggered landslides. The rising toll from the monsoon rains underscore the poor infrastructure in the country, where under-equipped rescue workers were struggling to reach people stranded in far-flung villages. The weather forecast was mixed, with some areas expected to see reduced rainfall and others likely to see an intensification.
Pakistani TV showed striking images of people clinging to fences and other stationary items as water at times gushed over their heads. The northwest appeared to be the hardest hit, and Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for the province, said it was the worst flooding in the region since 1929. The highway connecting Peshawar to the capital, Islamabad, was shut down after the water washed away bridges and other links.
At least 291 people died in various parts of that province over the last three days, said Mujahid Khan of the Edhi Foundation, a privately run rescue service that operates morgues and ambulances across the South Asian country. In Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, at least 22 people had been confirmed dead as of yesterday evening, the area's prime minister, Sardar Attique Khan, told reporters. The tolls from the deluge were expected to rise because many people were still missing. Poor weather this week also may have been a factor in Wednesday's Airblue plane crash that killed 152 people in Islamabad.
In the Swat Valley, residents were forced to trudge through knee-deep water in some streets. A newly constructed part of a dam in the Charsadda district collapsed, while the UN said it had reports that 5,000 homes were underwater in that area. Mr Hussain estimated 400,000 people were stranded in various northwest villages. "A rescue operation using helicopters cannot be conducted due to the bad weather, while there are only 48 rescue boats available for rescue," he said yesterday.