Cholera confirmed in Pakistani flood disaster

Aug 14th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Featured

But in a televised address to the nation Saturday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said 20 million were now homeless. He did not elaborate, and it was unclear how many of those people were briefly forced to leave their homes and how many had lost their houses altogether.

Fresh flood waves swelled the River Indus on Saturday, threatening nearby cities, towns and villages in southern Sindh province, said Mohammed Ajmal Shad, a senior meteorologist. The Indus was already more than 15 miles (25 kilometers) wide at some points — 25 times wider than during normal monsoon seasons.

Authorities were trying to evacuate or warn people in Jacobabad, Hyderabad, Thatta, Ghotki, Larkana and other areas. Already, many flood victims are living in muddy camps or overcrowded government buildings, while thousands more are sleeping in the open next to their cows, goats and whatever possessions they managed to drag with them.

The damage to the Pakistani government’s credibility, which was already shaky, may be even harder to repair, especially after fury caused by President Asif Ali Zardari’s decision to visit Europe as the crisis was unfolding. Zardari has tried to make up for that public relations gaffe by meeting with flood victims in hard hit areas since returning.

“We are with you. Pakistan is with you, and the people of Pakistan are with you,” he told survivors at a relief camp in the northwest’s Nowshehra city Saturday. He promised the government would rebuild victims’ homes.

The prime minister, meanwhile, defended the government’s response to the flooding disaster in his speech Saturday.

“This natural disaster has caused destruction at such a huge level that the government help (to survivors) looks insufficient,” Gilani said, adding that rescue workers are doing their best to reach all victims.

The United States has donated the most to the relief effort, at least $70 million, and has sent military helicopters to rescue stranded people and drop off food and water. Washington hopes the assistance will help improve its image in the country — however marginally — as it seeks its support in the battle against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

As President Barack Obama congratulated Pakistan on its Independence Day, which also marked the Muslim-majority nation’s separation from India, he insisted the U.S. would not abandon the country in its time of need.

“We will remain committed to helping Pakistan and will work side by side with you and the international community toward a recovery that brings back the dynamic vitality of your nation,” Obama said in a statement.

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