PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN // Rescuers trying to reach thousands of Pakistani flood victims were hampered by deluged roads and damaged bridges today, though there were signs that waters were receding in parts of the country. Floods killed more than 800 people according to Mujahid Khan, a spokesman for the Edhi rescue service, and left some 400,000 people stranded in far-flung villages and severely damaged the nation's already-weak infrastructure. The UN estimated that some one million people were affected, though it didn't specify exactly what that meant.
In the northwest, the hardest-hit region, it was the worst flooding since 1929. People clung to fences and each other as water gushed over their heads, TV footage showed. Scores of men, women and children sat on roofs. "There are very bad conditions," said Amjad Ali, a rescue worker in the Nowshera area. "They have no water, no food." Rescuers were using army helicopters, heavy trucks and boats to try reaching flood-hit areas, the UN said. It reported that thousands of homes and roads were destroyed, and at least 45 bridges across the northwest were damaged.
The destruction is slowing the rescue effort, said Luther Rehman, a government official in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, the northwest province. Floodwaters were receding in some areas in the northwest, he said. "Our priority is to transport flood-affected people to safer places. We are carrying out this rescue operation despite limited resources," he said, adding they needed more helicopters and boats. The flooding capped an already deadly week in Pakistan. A passenger jet slammed into hills overlooking Islamabad killing all 152 people on board on Wednesday, and bad weather is suspected to have played a role.