x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

New breach in Pakistan flood levee

Floodwaters made another break today in the levees protecting the southern Pakistani city of Thatta.

THATTA // Floodwaters made another break today in the levees protecting the southern Pakistani city of Thatta, as thousands of residents fled for high ground and left the city nearly empty. Both sides of the main road were crowded with people from Thatta and nearby flooded villages fleeing the floodwaters. Many had spent the night sleeping out in the open. Hadi Baksh Kalhoro, a Thatta disaster management official, said more than 175,000 people had left the city, leaving it nearly deserted.

Some are heading for nearby towns or cities, he said, with thousands also headed for the high ground of an ancient graveyard for Muslim saints. He said the latest levee breach, which happened early Saturday, could leave the outskirts of Thatta flooded by later in the day. The city is about 125 kilometers southeast of the port city of Karachi. The floods began in the mountainous northwest about a month ago with the onset of monsoon rains and have moved slowly down the country toward the coast in the south, inundating vast swaths of prime agricultural land and damaging or destroying more than one million homes.

More than 8 million people are in need of emergency assistance across the country. The new levee breach came as a gunbattle broke out at an office of security forces in Peshawar, the main city in Pakistan's northwest. The motive behind the attack was not immediately clear, police said. The shooting began about 6 am, and while Pakistani forces had deployed throughout the area, it continued more than four hours later.

Police official Dost Mohammed said it was unclear who fired at the office, but it came in a city where militants often target police and security forces. * AP