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PAKISTAN

Pakistan orders more flood evacuations

Reuters

Pakistan ordered 300,000 people to evacuate a southern city after waters breached itsdefences as the United Nations warned Friday the country's worst humanitarian crisis was deepening. For nearly a month, torrential monsoon rain has triggered massive floods steadily moving from north to south, affecting a fifth of the volatile country -- an area roughly the size of England -- and 17 million people.

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The United Nations estimated that around one million people had been displaced in the southern province of Sindh in 48 hours, where rising waters threatened a string of major towns.

"We ordered people of Thatta city on Thursday night to move to safer places after floods breached an embankment at Faqir Jogoth village," administration official Manzoor Sheikh told AFP.

About 70 percent of Thatta's approximately 300,000 people had so far moved to safer areas and the deluge is bearing down on the city, he said.

He said the surrounding towns of Sujawal, Mirpur Bathoro and Darro -- which had a combined population of 400,000 -- had already been evacuated.

A spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Islamabad estimated that one million people were displaced in a 48-hour period in Sindh alone.

"An already colossal disaster is getting worse and requiring an even more colossal response. The magnitude of this crisis is reaching levels that are even beyond our initial fears," said the spokesman Maurizio Giuliano.

"The number of those affected and those in need of assistance from us are bound to keep rising."

The Pakistani government has confirmed 1,600 people dead and 2,366 injured, but officials warn that millions are at risk from disease and food shortages.

The country's disaster agency said Friday there would be a "significant rise" in the death toll as waters recede and the numbers of missing are counted.

Giuliano, of UN OCHA, said the number who died as a direct result of the floods was relatively limited because most people were evacuated or managed to escape.

In terms of surface area, Sindh is now the worst-affected province of the country. Out of its 23 districts, 19 have so far been ravaged by floods, a UN OCHA statement said Friday.

The United Nations has warned that 800,000 people in desperate need of aid had been cut off by the deluge across the country and appealed for more helicopters to deliver supplies to those people reachable only by air.

Officials say around 4.5 million people urgently need shelter and Giuliano expressed serious concerns about rising malnutrition among children, with up to 20 percent of children in affected areas now suffering from diarrhoea-related diseases.

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