Pakistan appeals for help over ‘worst floods of its history’

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has appealled for immediate international help as the country battles the “worst floods of its history”.

“I would ask international community to support and help Pakistan alleviate sufferings of flood-affected people,” Gilani said in a televised address to the nation.

“The loss of human lives and infrastructure has been colossal and real assessment of damages can only be done when water recedes.”

It’s now estimated that as many as 12 million people have been affected by the disaster.

Authorities have evacuated half a million people from risk areas in the south and the UN has warned of the “daunting” scale of the crisis.

The nearly two-week-old disaster has affected 4.5 million across the largely impoverished country hard hit by Taliban-linked violence, after floods washed away entire villages and killed at least 1,600, according to UN estimates.

“We are passing through very critical times but courageous nations face such difficulties with strong will and determination,” Gilani said, adding that floods were engulfing new areas even as he spoke.

Authorities in the densely populated southern province of Sindh were busy evacuating villagers, warning that major floods in the next 48 hours threatened hundreds of communities in the fertile basin along the swollen Indus river.

“It is a real crisis all over the country. It is unprecedented floods in our history,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP, adding that the country did not have the resources to cope with such a disaster.

The meteorological office has issued a red alert, warning of an “imminent” and “extreme” flood threat to Sindh, especially along the Indus, as flooding spread to Indian-held Kashmir, where more than 110 people have now died.

Torrential rains were also forecast in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the disaster management authority warned people who have returned to partially damaged homes or those living along rivers to be careful.