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Flash Floods Devastate Parts of NW Pakistan

The United Nations says flash floods triggered by torrential rains have devastated Swabi and Mardan Districts in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. Government and international aid agencies are assisting thousands of victims of this natural disaster. The United Nations says various sources report at least 27 people killed, nine people missing and an estimated 400 to 450 houses destroyed.

The extent of the devastation is not yet known and will not be known until a United Nations assessment team completes its work. However, local authorities say about 70,000 to 80,000 people in Swabi District alone have been affected.

Spokeswoman for the UN Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, Elizabeth Byrs, tells VOA livestock have been washed away and drowned, crops of maize, rice, sugarcane and tobacco are submerged under the flood waters.

She says stocks of food that were stored in homes have been destroyed. This is of great concern, she says, because the food stocks were meant to feed people over the next six months. Now that they are lost, she warns people in the two-flood affected districts could suffer from food insecurity over the coming months.

"Those two districts are also close to the districts where the displaced people, displaced by the conflict are located," said Byrs. "And, it could also create the problem for those displaced people because they need to be fed. And, we use sometimes local resources-the government, the authorities use local resources. The World Food Program also use local resources to feed these people," she said.

Byrs says, fortunately, WFP's warehouse in the area has not been flooded, so it has food to distribute for now. She says a large relief effort has begun. She says the government is providing boats from the Pakistan army. They will be dispatched to Mardan District, along with tents and non-food items.

She says a number of UN aid agencies are also sending relief supplies. For instance, she says, the UN refugee agency is sending 500 tents to Swabi and the World Health Organization has set up three medical camps in Mardan.

She says there is a great danger that snakes will emerge after the flood waters recede. In anticipation of that, she says WHO has sent enough anti-venom for potential snake bites.