PM leaves for Chitral to monitor relief activities

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ISLAMABAD: As at least four people were killed on Wednesday when their pick-up truck was swept away by a seasonal stream in Khuzdar, Balochistan, raising the overall death toll from this year’s monsoon-linked floods to at least 13.

The vehicle was crossing a seasonal stream in the Shah Noorani area of the remote district when it was swept away because of a massive surge of water.

“We have found four bodies in the vehicle,” local government official Waheedur Rehman told AFP.

“We don’t know if some other people were also on board the vehicle as many people usually sit in the rear luggage hold of such vehicles,” he added.

Akbar Haripal, another government official, confirmed the incident.

Every year since 2010, which saw the worst floods in Pakistan’s history, the country has experienced serious inundations that kill hundreds and wipe out millions of acres of prime farmland, harming the heavily agrarian economy.

According to a report by the National Disaster Management Authority, this season’s floods have caused three deaths in the northwestern valley of Chitral while three people have lost their lives in Punjab ‘s Muzzafargarh district.

A further three were killed in the Balochistan district of Zhob, the report added.

The flood has also washed away as many as 180 buildings including houses, shops and hotels in Chitral while damaging another 15 bridges and 12 roads, the agency said.

In Punjab, 244 villages have been hit by the flood including 39 houses.

PM Nawaz announces Rs500m for flood relief in Chitral

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced an aid package of Rs500 million for flood relief activities in Chitral.

The prime minister took an aerial view of the flood affected areas on Wednesday, and was briefed about the damages caused by rains and floods in the area.

He even ordered for damage assessment of the destroyed houses in the region.

The prime minister said owners of houses, which are completely destroyed, will be compensated with Rs0.5 million, and amount for the partially damaged house will be determined separately.

PM Nawaz was also apprised about the relief and rescue activities being carried out in the area.

Earlier, upon his arrival the premier was received by the Chief Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Pervez Khattak. He was also accompanied K-P Governor Sardar Mehtab and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid.

Separately, K-P chief minister also visited Chitral to oversee the relief activities in the flood-hit areas.

Meanwhile, PM Nawaz also directed the authorities concerned to open more branches of utility stores to ensure continuous supply of food items to people of Chitral.

He also waived off loans owed to the Zarai Taraqyati Bank Limited by Chitral as the area has been declared calamity-hit.

The prime minister also announced Lowari Tunnel will be completed before December 2016 for for which Rs3 billion were already allocated.

Earlier on Wednesday, Multan Corps Commander Lt Gen Ashfaq Nadeem visited Layyah to oversee the relief activities in the flood-hit areas.

The corps commander was briefed on the relief activities by Pakistan Army while he also did aerial monitoring of the flood situation in the flood affected areas. During his visit Lt Gen Ashfaq Nadeem met with flood victims in the Southern Punjab, which is by far the worst affected area by the floods.

Army chief General Raheel Sharif had also directed the Pakistan Army to make all-out efforts to help and extend all possible assistance to the people in the flood-hit areas of Chitral and elsewhere in the country.

Army officials continued rescue operations in the worst-hit areas of Chitral, where the army and the Frontier Corps as well as the civil administration have distributed 16 tonnes of food packages. The Frontier Corps also donated 100 tonnes of food items to the flood affected people.

In Gilgit-Baltistan, flash floods had cut off at least three valleys in Diamer and Baltistan.

Widespread rains forecast for next five days

The Meteorological department office has predicted widespread rains in the country during the next five days, Radio Pakistan reported on Wednesday.

Briefing media in Islamabad, DG Meteorological Department Dr Ghulam Rasul said widespread rain may cause flooding in different parts of the country.

Landslides in hilly areas including Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir, Malakand and Hazara divisions are also expected, added Rasul.

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