Pakistan floods seen worsening as heavy rains loom

Fri Aug 6, 2010 4:02pm GMT

By Waseem Sattar

SUKKUR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Heavy rains are expected to lash areas of Pakistan already devastated by the worst floods in 80 years, probably intensifying a calamity that has cast more doubts about the leadership of President Asif Ali Zardari.

"We're forecasting widespread rains in the country, especially in flood-affected areas," Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, director general of the department, told Reuters, adding the downpours are expected in the next two days.

At least 1,600 people have been killed by the flooding. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said 12 million people have been affected in two provinces hit by the floods and figures were not yet available for southern Sindh.

The floods have stoked popular anger at absent Zardari, who went ahead with state visits to Europe at the height of the disaster, which swallowed up entire villages.

"This trip seems to have been the litmus test, and any benefit of the doubt that the president had remaining in his favour, has now entirely ceased to exist in the eyes of the public," said Fasi Zaka, a radio talk show host and columnist.

The floods have also inundated crop-producing areas, dealing a crippling blow to the agricultural-based economy.

Floods are expected to heavily damage mainly rural areas in Sindh after roaring down from the northwest and through the central agricultural heartland of Punjab, along a path at least 1,000 km (621 miles) long.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, addressing the nation for the first time since the disaster struck after visiting flooded areas, described the loss of human life and infrastructure as "colossal" and appealed for international aid.   Continued...

<p>A family takes refuge on top of a mosque while awaiting rescue from flood waters in Sanawa, a town located in the Muzaffar Ghar district of Pakistan's Punjab province August 5, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.