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Rescue Efforts Under Way in Flooded Region of Pakistan


A massive rescue operation is under way in southwestern Pakistan, where heavy rains caused a dam to burst earlier this week, inundating several villages in a remote coastal region. Rescue workers have recovered at least 80 bodies from the floodwaters. Hundreds of people are missing. Nationwide, the death toll from heavy rain and snow has risen to nearly 250.

Officials say the destruction of the dam in the coastal town of Pasni sent tides of water through several villages, sweeping hundreds of people into the Arabian Sea. As many as 20,000 villagers are either trapped or left homeless by the floodwaters.

Thousands of Pakistani troops are said to be carrying out rescue operations. President Pervez Musharraf has flown to view the scene personally.

Siddique Akbar is the head of the provincial relief organization. He says Pakistani troops are using all resources available to try to save people, or recover bodies from the floodwaters.

"They are covering the area by helicopters, aerial survey, as well as, they have their launches and boats, and they are out in the open sea to see any missing bodies, or those who are still struggling for life on the open sea," he said.

Mr. Akbar says the exact death toll is not yet known.

"Our conservative estimate for the last two nights has been that the number of casualties, number of dead would be under 100," he said.

He says military transport planes and trucks are ferrying in food, blankets, tents and other emergency supplies.

Meanwhile, heavy rain and snow elsewhere in Pakistan are blamed for the deaths of 150 people. In the worst single incident, some 33 people were killed in the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir, when an avalanche struck a hamlet in the Neelam Valley.

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