Pakistan warns of disease epidemic

The Pakistani government is warning of a possible epidemic of waterborne diseases as the nation’s flood crisis worsens.

Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has held talks with government and international health officials because of fears of widespread outbreaks of disease, such as cholera.

Millions of victims of Pakistan’s flood disaster still do not have any clean drinking water or basic shelter.

The United Nations says there are already more than 120,000 case of suspected dengue and malaria, while skin infections and diarrhoea have affected hundreds of thousands more.

Relief workers and the military are trying to get aid to the desperate but there is too little to hand out and too many in need.

Fights are breaking out amid the frustration, with people hitting each other as they scramble for food.

The situation is worsening in the south of the country. In the province of Sindh, irrigation officials are warning of more flooding in the next three days.

The provincial government says up to 600,000 people in low-lying areas are at risk from the rising river levels.

Officials are also holding talks with the International Monetary Fund about the country’s battered economy and how to maintain stability.

The floods have so far killed 1,500 people and affected up to 20 million others.

It is estimated the country’s economic losses could spiral to more than $40 billion and there are renewed concerns Islamic militants may exploit the chaos.