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Dozens Killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan Floods

Family members wait for rescue workers after their vehicle was submerged in flood waters on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan, August 4, 2013.
Rescue and relief efforts are underway in Pakistan and Afghanistan after flash floods caused by heavy monsoon rains inundated parts the region. More than 100 people were killed in both countries and preparations are underway for more rains in September, the typical monsoon season.

Monsoon rains over the weekend left a trail of destruction. Dozens of people were killed in the flash floods, some electrocuted by fallen power lines, others crushed as their houses collapsed.

Whole villages were washed away and cars swept off the roads in northwest Pakistan. In the southern port city of Karachi, water levels along some streets were waist-high.

Before hitting Pakistan, the storm killed at least 58 people in five Afghan provinces, while an estimated 30 others remain missing. In Kabul's Surobi district, authorities say 34 people were killed in a remote and mountainous area.

Provincial authorities in Pakistan said Monday they have set up more than 30 medical camps and deployed about 100 trucks carrying relief supplies to flood affected areas in eastern Pakistan.

Army engineers were pumping out blocked drains in Karachi's normally crowded roads to help the water recede.

Atif Rehman, director general of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority for the northwest Khyber Patunkhwa province, gave a preliminary assessment of the damages in the region to VOA.

"Around 16 people they were dead and around 10, 11 were injured," he said. "Those people who were initially displaced most of them have returned to their houses, and for the time being tents have been provided to the people whose houses have been damaged."

Rehman said that in all areas of the province except one, the waters had receded almost as fast as they had risen.

Saeed Aleem, head of the National Disaster Management Authority, told reporters Monday that, so far, the monsoon season forecast was within a normal range. But he added, the worry was that the September rains could concentrate in central Pakistan.

“That is where we traditionally had problems on the hill torrents, that is where some issues of drainage do persist," he explained, "and so that is where we need to actually take more effective measures, and that is what we have sensitized provinces and the district authorities to take necessary measures, and we have positioned relief accordingly."

More than 1,700 people were killed and another 20 million were affected by massive floods that rushed through Pakistan in 2010.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.