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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 February, 2005, 15:40 GMT
Pakistani flood deaths increase
People being rescued
The rescue operation is in full swing
Officials in Pakistan say 278 people have died as a result of a week of torrential rains and snowstorms.

Most of the deaths - 135 - were in southern Balochistan province, where a burst dam near Pasni has caused floods affecting more than 30,000 people.

President Pervez Musharraf toured the area on Saturday promising financial assistance to people who have lost family members or their homes.

Dozens have died across the country in avalanches and landslides.

They include more than 30 people killed in a valley in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, when their homes were buried under an avalanche.

And, on the border with Afghanistan, 30 soldiers are feared killed in a landslide.

They lost radio contact with their base on Thursday.

Unspecified compensation

Officials in Balochistan said five villages were swept away when rains breached the Shadikor dam near Pasni, 650km (400 miles) from the provincial capital, Quetta.

About 3,000 personnel from the army, navy, coastguard and civil emergency organisations have been called in for the rescue operation, amid fears the casualty figures could rise.

"So far, Pakistan army, navy and coast guards have pulled out 135 bodies from floodwaters in the districts of Pasni, Turbat and Awaran," said Mohammed Ilyas, a senior official at the provincial Crisis Control and Management Cell in Quetta.

He said about 500 people were still missing, while many were sheltering in mountains around Pasni.

President Musharraf flew into the flood-stricken area to see the aftermath of the surge: bridges crumpled, roads torn up, homes flattened in an instant.

He promised unspecified compensation for the victims, as well as rebuilding destroyed infrastructure.

He said the casualty figures were not as high as initially feared, but that the destruction to property was worse.

General Musharraf praised the rapid response of the navy and the army, leading efforts to rescue hundreds of marooned people by helicopter.

In most parts the roads are inundated and unusable. More aid, food, medicine and tents is now arriving.

More rain on way

More than 1,000 people have been airlifted to safety but more remain stranded on roofs, and on high ground near Pasni.

Continuing rain has compounded the misery and made the operation more difficult.

Villages inundated

Power and telephone lines as well as roads were also damaged.

Some of the dead were travelling along the main southern coastal highway and were swept into the Arabian Sea when the floodwaters struck.

Already questions are being asked about how a dam completed just two years ago and built to capture water for irrigation in a normally parched province could have failed with such devastating consequences, says the BBC's Paul Anderson in Islamabad.

Meteorological experts said some parts of Pakistan had received the heaviest rain and snow in seven years.

Heavy rain is expected to continue for at least the next two days.

Rescuers struggle to reach stranded people

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Bad weather kills 17 in Pakistan
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31 Jul 03 |  South Asia
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01 Jul 03 |  South Asia

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