News / Asia

Cholera Confirmed in Pakistan's Floods

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The worst floods in Pakistan's history washed out independence day celebrations Saturday, as the U.N. confirmed the waterborne disease cholera has been found in the disaster zone.  

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says the catastrophic floods, triggered by monsoon rains, have affected 20 million people.  Many of those have lost their homes; others were displaced temporarily, but it is not clear if they have returned to their homes.

The government canceled independence day celebrations as floods triggered by monsoon downpours continued to devastate a region where aid workers say 6 million people need humanitarian assistance.

U.N. officials confirmed the first case of cholera in Mingora, in the northwestern district of Swat.  Other cases of the deadly disease are suspected and aid workers are treating thousands of cases of acute watery diarrhea.

Authorities say the floods have killed 1,600 people.

President Asif Ali Zardari visited relief camps Saturday, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to tour Pakistan's flood-hit areas as soon as Sunday.  

As much as 50 percent of the country has been inundated, causing loss of crops and, in some areas, wiping out 80 percent of all farm animals.

Aid agencies say the catastrophe will be felt in Pakistan for years to come.

The U.N. says it has received 20 percent of the $460 million it has requested in emergency aid from the international comunity.  Washington has already provided more than $76 million in relief aid to Pakistan, and U.S. helicopters have evacuated 4,000 people and delivered close to 170 tons of relief supplies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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