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Disease fears as Pakistan floods sweep south

Disease fears as Pakistan floods sweep south
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The worst floods in Pakistan for 80 years have swept through the central Punjab province as swollen rivers carry torrents of water southwards.

In the country’s economic heartland crops have been destroyed and hundreds of villages ravaged.

The region worst affected remains the north-west. Thousands of people forced from their homes have been flocking to rescue centres, many seeking medical help.

Tahir Shah is a doctor at a medical camp at Charsadda in northwest Pakistan.

“Most patients coming to use are suffering from waterborne diseases, gastric problems, chest infections and skin complaints. The cause of these diseases is mainly dirty flood water,” he said.

The UN has been joining the struggle to provide food and other aid to more than three million people affected. Rescue workers have had trouble getting supplies through because bridges have been washed away and communication lines have been cut. The World Food Programme has warned of shortages.

Still more rain has been swelling rivers, leading to fears that the floods could soon hit the south of the country as well.

So far more than 1500 people are known to have died. Several countries have stepped in to help. The US had already pledged more than seven and a half million euros in initial aid; it has now promised a major effort to help the millions affected.

The situation could get more difficult in the coming days with further rain forecast.