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Starving people loot flood relief goods in Punjab

world Updated: Aug 14, 2010 16:14 IST

Vehicles carrying relief goods for victims of the worst floods in Pakistan's history were looted in inundated regions of Punjab by starving people who have been without food for several days, officials said on Saturday.

Government agencies, the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund and other NGOs suspended their relief operation in Muzaffargarh district following the incidents of looting.

"We got calls from PPAF officials that their convoy carrying relief goods was attacked near Jadey Wala on Mahmood Kot Road and flood victims looted their vehicles. We rushed there and controlled the situation," a police official said.

PPAF coordinator Muhammad Kamran said his organisation suspended its relief operation because its vehicles were attacked and similar attacks were also reported on the vehicles of other NGOs.

"The situation turned very dangerous because of large-scale hunger and this might endanger the safety of our workers," he said.

"Police resorted to a baton charge on the flood-affected people and recovered the looted goods," Kamran said.

"We are told that the people have been without food and water for the past four days and cooked meals sent by the district administration were inadequate," he said.

People were trying to gather together relief materials as they did not know the next aid convoy would go to their area, officials of NGOs said.

Police detained five persons for looting relief materials from the vehicles. Hasan, one of detained men, said they had been forced to resort to such an act as they had nothing to eat.

He said they all belonged to respected and well-off families but the floods had made them homeless and they were now being called "thieves".

Up to one million people in Muzaffargarh have been displaced by the floods, which have affected over 14 million people and killed nearly 1,700 across Pakistan.