Relief rushed as thousands trapped in Pakistan floods


Islamabad : Relief activities were underway Tuesday for thousands of people trapped in the accumulated rain water in Pakistan’s Balochistan province as the military expedited operations to aid the people marooned in the aftermath of cyclone Phet.

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“As many as 30,000 pounds of relief goods are being taken to Gwadar,” senior journalist Asfar Imam told Xinhua on the phone from onboard a Pakistan Air Force C-130 aircraft early Tuesday morning.

The relief goods include tents, medicines, drinking water, food and other stuff, Asfar added.

A spokesman of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said rations, medicine and drinking water is also being sent through helicopters into the affected areas.

Phet that developed into a ferocious cyclone over the past week died down late Sunday, reducing to a tropical storm after hitting Thatta and Keti Bandar on the coast of southern Sindh province, leaving thousands homeless and 15 dead in Pakistan after it hit Oman and killed 16 last week. It also rendered thousands homeless while floods washed away hundreds of homes in the coastal areas of Pakistan over the weekend.

However, the calamity-hit areas are in grip of extreme unchecked price hike, particularly Gwadar where gasoline is being sold at Rs.500 ($1 equals 84 Pakistani rupees) a litre (retail price is Rs.69.23 per litre) let alone the scarcely available essential food items.

Some 50 vehicles with Iran-bound travellers have been trapped for the past four days on the coastal highway in Gwadar area, as large portions of the highway have either been eroded or washed away by floods, paralysing life in the coast areas. Some 50 villages have also lost land communication, according to the Pakistani media.

Geo television reported Tuesday that residents of Fakir Colony in Gwadar area protested over the non-availability of relief goods. Irate protesters have also damaged public properties.

In addition to several relief sorties the C-130 and two helicopters had made Monday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani arrived in Balochistan’s capital Quetta on a morale bolstering trip.

The prime minister has announced 5,000 jobs for Baloch youths while Kayani offered 4,000 scholarships to students in Balochistan, the geographically largest and rich in mineral resources but least developed province. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari has announced symbolic help of Rs.1,000 for each marooned family.

Train services and land communications are still disrupted in the coastal areas whereas stagnant waters on most of the arteries in Karachi have been flushed out, gradually restoring life to normalcy.

But, life in severely affected areas is still paralysed while the scheduled examinations in all educational institutions in both the Sindh and Balochistan provinces have been postponed till the end of June.