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300,000 people evacuated as Indus threatens Thatta town

world Updated: Aug 27, 2010 14:09 IST
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Pakistani authorities on Friday ordered evacuation of 300,000 residents of one of the countries oldest towns Thatta after its flood protection defences were breached by the swollen Indus river.

Besides, Thatta, residents of four other major towns Shahdadkot, Mirput Bathoro, Sujawal and Daro and the surrounding villages have also been ordered to leave their homes for safety, as UN warned that the country's humanitarian crisis was getting worse.

"We have ordered the people of Thatta and other threatened towns to evacuate and move to safer places as the rising Indus river has breached embankments of three major points," Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Ali Mirza said.

After the alarm was sounded around midnight, hundreds of thousands of people were shown on Television footage leaving their homes in panic and hurry.

People left in cars, trucks, buses and even bullock carts with their personal belongings. Authorities said at least 900,000 would be evacuated from the region.

"The torrential monsoon rains and rising floods have not it easy to carry out rescue operations while making it difficult to ensure relief and aid reached all the affected people," officials said.

The evacuation of fresh towns in the Southern Sindh province comes as torrential rains have caused massive flooding from the North of the country to the South, affecting 17 million people.

The Chief Administrator of the area Manzoor Sheikh said, Army engineers were working to try to plug the beaches few kilometres from the Thatta town to stop floodwaters from entering the town.

Ali Gul Sanjrani another government official in the Thatta district said that flooding water had already hit the road linking Thatta and Hyderabad.

In a relief camp set up on the outskirts of Karachi, medical officials reported that around 76 people had died from gastro problems in Sindh with the deaths mainly attributed to unhygienic food, contaminated water and bad sanitary condition at the relief camps.

The worst-hit by the gastro diseases is District Kashmore in the province where at least 54 people succumbed to the disease.

Rescue officials said the heavy flooding had washed away villages and destroyed livestock and crops on rich farmland.

The river Indus delta which is about 100 kilometres east of Karachi has been worst hit by the floods with thousands of people living in surrounding towns, villages and on embankments already feeling for safety.

Floodwaters are beginning to recede across the country but met officials say because of high tides in the Arabian sea and possibility of more monsoon rains the danger of flooding remains in Sindh province.

According to reports, the the floods in Pakistan have so far claimed 1,600 lives, damaged at least 3.2 million hectares of standing crop -- about 14 per cent of Pakistan's entire total cultivated land.