Raging monsoon floods sweeping across India and Pakistan have killed more than 440 people, authorities said Tuesday, warning hundreds of thousands more to be prepared to flee their homes as helicopters and boats raced to save marooned victims. Authorities in Pakistan say the floods, which began Sept. 3, are the worst since massive flooding killed 1,700 people in 2010. Pakistan’s minister for water and power, Khwaja Mohammad Asif, warned parliament that some 700,000 people have been told to leave their homes, which could be inundated in the next four days. Pakistani and Indian troops have been using boats and helicopters to drop food supplies for stranded families and evacuate victims. However, the challenge of the situation grows as more than 1.5 million people are now affected as the rushing waters have destroyed the homes of thousands of families. “This is a sad moment for all of us,” Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, addressing flood victims in the country’s Hafiz district. “These floods came suddenly and no one knew that such a large flood was coming.” The floods have triggered landslides in the divided Kashmir region, split between the two arch rivals, and caused much devastation in northern and eastern Pakistan. The death toll from the heaviest rain to fall on Kashmir in 50 years rose to more than 400 on Tuesday, with thousands still trapped on rooftops and residents criticizing Indian and Pakistani authorities for not doing enough to help them. “The damage is shocking,” a senior official from India’s National Disaster Response Force said in New Delhi. “People have been stranded on the rooftops of their homes for the last three days in some parts of Kashmir.”
The rains washed away houses, bridges, communication equipment and crops. Pakistani and Indian troops say they have evacuated more than 60,000 people. Others have waded through waist-deep water to escape the floods, as women carried household items and children on their shoulders as others dragged their livestock along. On roadsides, families set up makeshift camps. Hundreds of others remain stranded on the rooftops, waving for help to every passing helicopter. On a road near the village of Jamia Abad in the eastern Pakistani district of Jhang, Naseem Akhtar, 41, said she had gone from one government office to another, trying to get someone to help her husband and other family members who had stayed back in their now-submerged village. Last time she talked to her husband by phone was on Monday night, when he told her that they were sitting on the roof waiting to be rescued, she said. “I went to the police, I tried to find a private boat, but nothing, there is no help,” she said. So far, 231 have died in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, while 200 have been killed in India, officials say. In Pakistan, the floods are now moving south, said Ahmad Kamal, a spokesman for the country’s National Disaster Management Authority. – Extinction Protocol
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