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Raging storm kills 228 in Pakistan

Heavy wind and rain wreaked havoc on Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi, killing more than 228 people, a provincial minister confirmed on Sunday.

world Updated: Jun 25, 2007 02:23 IST
Imtiaz Shah

Heavy wind and rain wreaked havoc on Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi, killing more than 228 people, a provincial minister confirmed on Sunday.

Pakistani officials earlier said that 43 people had been killed in the rain that began on Saturday afternoon in the capital of the southern Sindh province.

Health Minister of Sindh Sardar Ahmed said a private welfare organisation, Edhi Trust, had received bodies of another 185 people killed in rain-related accidents.

"Now the total number of those killed because of rain is 228," he told Reuters.

"These deaths are caused by electrocution, falling trees, house collapses and road accidents."

Anwar Kazmi, a spokesman for Edhi Trust, said most deaths had taken place in the low-lying areas of the sprawling city.

He said that around 120 bodies have been taken away by their families while the rest remained at the mortuaries.

Every year thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless across South Asia by months of monsoon rains which are vital for farmers and the wider economy but which leave a trail of destruction in their wake.

Karachi has received 17.7 millimetres (0.7 inches) of rain since Saturday, submerging most low-lying neighbourhoods of the city. Weather officials predicted more rains late on Sunday.

Heavy rains followed by a strong storm uprooted trees, signboards and cut electricity wires. Most parts of the city have been without electricity for more than 20 hours.

"We are doing our best to restore power supply, but I must say situation is very bad," said Syed Sultan Hasan, a spokesman for Karachi's power utility.

Angry residents hurled stones at passing cars and power company vehicles, and burnt tyres to protest the power outage.

In southern India, officials revised down the death toll to 35, but said 24,000 houses had collapsed and 200,000 people were now homeless. Aid workers backed by military helicopters battled on Sunday to provide food to those who had been displaced.

"Soldiers and naval helicopters have taken up rescue operations in Kurnool and Guntur districts ... where people are stranded on rooftops and up trees," said Preeti Sudan, the state's disaster management commissioner.

She said half a million food packets and a million water sachets were being handed out to people in 300 relief centres in the state where rains have since eased.

In India's financial capital, Mumbai, heavy monsoon rains flooded homes and streets where a century-old British-built drainage system failed to cope with the storm water.

At least one person was killed when a wall collapsed. People waded through water in low-lying neighbourhoods.