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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Pakistan floods spark food crisis
By Ali Hassan
BBC correspondent in Hyderabad

Villagers leave their flood-affected home in Badin
Many people in the Badin region are still waiting for help
Tens of thousands of Pakistanis in the flood-hit southern Sindh Province are facing food shortages.

People at many relief camps set up by the local administration say they have hardly any food, and little to cook it on.

Complaints have been the loudest at shelters in Badin district, which has been worst-affected by the floods.

The demands being placed on the supply system are stretching the local administration's ability to feed everyone.

People seeking refuge say half-cooked rice is being supplied every day but not everybody receives even that.

Supplies damaged

The senior civil servant in Badin, Syed Mumtaz Shah, says his colleagues have established 70 camps across the district where 30,000 people have sought shelter.

Residents search the ruins of their flood-damaged homes
Thousands of people across Sindh have become homeless

"It is a Herculean task for us to arrange just food for such a large number of people," he said.

People in villages marooned by rising waters are not faring much better. Provisions being air-dropped by the military are mostly uncooked.

Supplies are being dropped from such a height that much of these have either been destroyed or fallen into the swirling current.

Food packets originally contained flour, rice and tea. After people began asking how they would cook the dry rations, dates and bread were included.

Drinking water too is scarce. Flood water - a mixture of rain-swollen torrents and salt-water from canals - surrounds most villages.

Community in mourning

Khadan town in Badin is typical. Everything has been submerged. The power station, telephone exchange, and government buildings are under water.

Private houses and shops, much smaller in size, have disappeared beneath the waves.

Officials admit several thousand people are still marooned in the area after soldiers in boats failed to evacuate everyone stranded over the past eight days.

Of the 35 army, police and private boats used to rescue people, half are victims of mechanical failures.

Across the district, nearly a quarter of the 1.3m population has been badly hit by the deluge.

And there is no agreement over the death toll either. Non-government charity workers show a list with 110 names but officials insist no more than 44 have died.

Whatever the figures, it is a community in mourning. Everybody alive seems to have lost someone to the floods.

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