QUETTA, Pakistan – Floods due to a cyclone and rain have left as many as 100 people dead in southwestern Pakistan, a senior relief official said Sunday, as the government appealed for donations of tents to shelter about 1 million people left homeless by the flooding.
The deaths have occurred in the southwestern province of Baluchistan since Tuesday, when Cyclone Yemyin and rains triggered floods across a vast area, said Tariq Ayub, Baluchistan's home secretary, who is overseeing the flood relief operation.
Many of the casualties occurred due to drowning and people getting trapped under the debris of their collapsing homes in 13 hardest-hit Baluchistan districts, Ayub said at a news conference in the province's capital, Quetta.
Among the dead were 42 people who drowned Saturday in a stream flooded by rains and waters from a breached dam in Khuzdar district, Ayub said.
He said more than 100 other people were missing in the area.
Pakistan television showed vast areas in Baluchistan submerged, with survivors sometimes wading through neck-deep water.
A key highway that stretches along the Arabian Sea — connecting Karachi, the main seaport and biggest city, with several other coastal towns — was damaged in many places.
A large-scale relief operation, hampered at times by broken roads, continued Sunday as military helicopters and cargo planes flew marooned survivors to safety and distributed food, water and medicines, officials said.
"Relief goods are pouring in, but it is a challenge to distribute it in the vast affected area where communication and transportation lines have broken down," said Raziq Bugti, spokesman for the Baluchistan government.
The military said Sunday that relief goods distributed by helicopter and C-130 planes included bags of rice, tents, mattresses, bottled water, medicines and water tanks.
Khudah Bakhsh, another senior relief official, said more tents were needed to provide shelter to the more than 1 million people that have been left homeless by flooding in 15 badly hit districts.
"We urgently need tents. ... we appeal to the international community to provide us at least 100,000 tents to house the homeless people," he said.
Mohammed Yousaf, government coordinator for national rural support program in Turbat, one of the worst-hit towns, said waterborne diseases were a threat due to a lack of clean drinking water.
He said there were already reports of a diarrhea outbreaks in some flood-hit areas.
Floods last week also killed more than two dozen people in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region. On June 23, storms left 228 people dead in Karachi, the capital of neighboring Sindh province.
The state-run Pakistan Meteorological Department on Sunday forecast "widespread heavy rains" and storms in Sindh and Baluchistan over the next four days.