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Floods ravage Pakistan's heartland, threaten south

A boy takes a moment to rest after salvaging belongings from his flooded home on Wednesday in Pabbi, near Nowshera, Pakistan. Deadly flooding in northwestern Pakistan has killed more than 1,500 people and affected another 3.2 million.

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A boy takes a moment to rest after salvaging belongings from his flooded home on Wednesday in Pabbi, near Nowshera, Pakistan. Deadly flooding in northwestern Pakistan has killed more than 1,500 people and affected another 3.2 million.

KOT ADDU, Pakistan — Flooding ravaged hundreds of villages in Pakistan's main province of Punjab on Wednesday, destroying homes, soaking crops and threatening more lives. Aid workers warned that bloated rivers would surge south soon, flooding more areas.

This year's monsoon season has caused the worst flooding in Pakistan in living memory. More than 1500 people have been killed so far. The United Nations is scrambling to provide food and other aid to about 3.2 million affected people in a nation already struggling with an Islamist insurgency and a poor economy.

After causing huge destruction in Pakistan's volatile northwest, floodwaters deluged villages and some urban centers in Punjab, the richest and most populous province. The army used boats and helicopters to move stranded villagers to higher ground.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Nadir Zeb told reporters that at least 30,000 people have been rescued from flood-hit zones in Kot Addu and other areas over the past 72 hours. He warned of more flooding as more rains were forecast in the next few days.

Monsoon season in Pakistan usually lasts about three months, through mid September. In a typical year, the country gets an average 5.4 inches worth of rainfall during the monsoon season. This year, it already has received 6.3 inches, said Muhammad Hanif, head of the National Weather Forecasting Center in Islamabad.

He said the northwest experienced "once-in-a-century" rains, hitting it the hardest. The vast majority of deaths have been reported in the northwest region.

U.S. ally killed

A Pakistani Taliban suicide bomber killed the head of a U.S.-backed paramilitary police force battling militants in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, one of the highest-ranking security officers ever assassinated in the country. According to officials, the bomber detonated his explosives next to the car of Sifwat Ghayur, the head of the 25,000-strong Frontier Constabulary, in Peshawar.

Floods ravage Pakistan's heartland, threaten south 08/04/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:31pm]
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