09/05/2014, 00.00
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40 dead and dozens wounded as heavy Pakistani monsoons set to continue

The weather experts warn of a possible worsening of rainfall: high risk of flooding. Main rivers of the country under surveillance, for fear of flooding. Victims include women and children. Government criticized for lack of prevention.

Lahore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The death toll of people killed by the heavy monsoons that have hit Pakistan this week has risen to 40 people. Meanwhile, weather experts warn of a possible worsening of rainfall combined with the imminent danger of flooding. Most of the victims were buried under collapsed buildings in Punjab, the richest and most populous province of the country; in the provincial capital, Lahore, 14 are confirmed dead so far.

The government, already the target of violent opposition protests, has been criticized for failing to implement an effective prevention campaign. Civil Defense spokesman Jam Sajjad, said that "at least 28 people have died in various accidents" caused by the "collapse of roofs" in various houses in Punjab "in the last 24 hours".

Victims include women and children; the number of wounded is less than 30, but the toll is likely to increase in the coming hours with a regional evaluation of the damage. Rizwan Naseer, who is in charge of relief operations in Punjab, says that all the wounded are currently being treated in hospitals and "we are removing the rubble to search for survivors".

Pakistani Kashmir also registered victims, with at least 10 dead and four wounded. Meanwhile, there are new floods and landslides in the Himalayan region, while the Jhelum and Neelum rivers are expected to overflows at several points. The National Weather Service has already issued the alert for more, heavy rain and thunderstorms in the Punjab and in the north of the country for the next 72 hours; maximum alert has been set for the rivers and streams throughout the territory, at high risk of flooding.

Over the last four years, Pakistan has been a victim of the devastating floods caused by monsoon rains, with thousands of casualties, damage and even fierce criticism against the previous government, blamed for failing to have an early warning system and the lack of assistance to victims. In 2010, the worst floods in history killed almost 2 thousand people and affected 21 million people, causing a grave humanitarian crisis. The phenomenon repeated itself a year later, with hundreds of deaths and over five million displaced persons, and again in 2013 with over eighty casualties and hundreds of displaced.


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