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Pakistan Says 250,000 Left Homeless by Floods


Pakistani officials say monsoon flooding has left at least a quarter-million people homeless along the country's vulnerable southern coast. Riots broke out in several locations Friday as desperate victims protested the lack of emergency relief. VOA's Benjamin Sand has more from Islamabad.

Police used tear gas and bamboo clubs to help contain violent riots in the southern city of Talbot Friday, four days after a powerful cyclone hit the surrounding region.

Protesters accuse the government of mismanaging relief operations, leaving thousands of families in the area without food or water.

Villagers in and around the city say it took more than two days for emergency supplies to reach some of the hardest hit areas.

The flooding has especially affected the southern provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh.

Families stranded by the rising water have been taking refuge inside mosques and schools.

Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Federal Emergency Relief Coordinator Farooq Ahmed says the scale of destruction is much higher than originally expected.

"The cyclone has devastated four districts in Sindh and 10 in Baluchistan in varying degrees," he said. "As the communications network is down, the roads are cut off, telephone lines are not working, and electricity is not there, exact information is coming in bits and pieces."

There are already reports of at least 250 people dead in Pakistan.

The heavy rains have also killed more than 300 others in neighboring Afghanistan and India.

Officials in all three countries say the death toll is expected to rise significantly in the next few days as floodwaters recede, exposing additional victims.

Fresh storms have hampered relief efforts throughout the region.

Despite driving rain and wind, military helicopters in Pakistan continued to airlift emergency supplies to the flood-affected areas Friday.

General Ahmed said the army was sending additional troops to the region to help expand the relief operation.