Torrential monsoon rains kill at least 89 in Pakistan: officials
LAHORE, Pakistan - Agence France-Presse
Pakistani residents wade through floodwaters following heavy rain in Lahore on September 4, 2014. AFP PhotoTwo days of torrential monsoon rains have killed at least 89 people in Pakistan, officials said Friday, as authorities ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas around a major river.
The deaths have all come in the most populous province Punjab and in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, with most caused by roof collapses and electric shocks.
Pakistan has suffered deadly monsoon floods for the last four years -- in 2013, 178 people were killed and around 1.5 million affected by flooding around the country.
Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) warned there was a high risk of flooding in three towns along the Chenab river in Punjab and asked people to leave low-lying and vulnerable areas.
Troops have been mobilised for flood relief duties in eastern Punjab and "will remain on standby in Lahore", the provincial capital.
Eight army helicopters and 80 boats are taking part in rescue operations around the province, the military said.
Dramatic images from Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city, showed some major streets and the Gaddafi cricket stadium flooded.
"At least 48 people have been killed and 174 others wounded in Punjab," Rizwan Naseer, the director general of rescue services in Punjab, told AFP.
He said that in Lahore alone 18 people were left dead and 53 others were injured as a result of the flooding.
"Most of the deaths occurred due to roof collapses and electric shocks in the last 48 hours." Naseer warned that the death toll was likely to rise as reports were coming in of floodwaters sweeping through villages in rural areas.
At least 38 people were killed in Pakistani-administered Kashmir with nine injured, Akram Sohail, chairman disaster management agency in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir told AFP.
"Most of them died due to landslides, roof collapse and drowning," Sohail said and added that heavy rains have destroyed communication links with remote villages.
Residents living along the Neelum and Jhelum river banks in Muzaffarabad were being evacuated as the water level was rapidly rising.
Also in mountainous Kashmir, three soldiers died on Thursday in a mudslide near the de facto border with India, which like Pakistan claims the territory as its own.
There were desperate scenes in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's twin city, where rescuers struggled to free a man buried up to his face in mud that had engulfed his family's house.
"My house collapsed in the landslide due to the heavy rain. My whole family was trapped under the debris," the man's father Azeem Khan told AFP, shortly before his son was freed.
"I have nowhere to live."
Pakistan's meteorological office issued a severe weather warning for northeast Punjab and Kashmir, saying more intense rain was expected which could trigger flash flooding.
The NDMA said that the town of Palandri in Kashmir had received more than 30 centimetres (one foot) of rain in the 30 hours up to 2:00pm on Thursday.
The floods of 2010 were the worst in Pakistan's history, with 1,800 people killed and 21 million affected in what became a major humanitarian crisis.