Cholera case confirmed as Indus flood waters continue to rise
Published 15/08/2010 | 05:00
A case of the deadly water-borne disease cholera has been confirmed in Pakistan's flood-ravaged northwest, and aid workers expect there to be more, the UN said yesterday.
The discovery came as new flood surges hit the south and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani said 20 million people had been left homeless by the deluge.
The UN has appealed for an initial $460m (€360m) to provide relief to Pakistan, but has said the country would need billions to rebuild once the flood receded.
In light of the crisis, Pakistan cancelled celebrations yesterday marking its creation and independence from Britain in 1947.
President Asif Ali Zardari has met with flood victims in the northwest. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit the country soon.
The floods have killed around 1,500 people, and aid workers have warned that disease could raise that toll.
One case of cholera had been confirmed in Mingora, the main town in the northwest's Swat Valley, UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said. Other cases were suspected.
Cholera can lead to severe dehydration and death without prompt treatment, and containing cholera outbreaks is considered a high priority following floods.
In a televised address to the nation yesterday, Mr Gilani said 20 million were now homeless. It was unclear how many of those people were briefly forced to leave their homes and how many had lost their houses altogether.
Fresh flood waves swelled the River Indus yesterday, threatening nearby cities, towns and villages in southern Sindh province, said Mohammed Ajmal Shad, a senior meteorologist. The Indus was already more than 15 miles (25km) wide at some points -- 25 times wider than during normal monsoon seasons.
Authorities were trying to evacuate or warn people in Jacobabad, Hyderabad, Thatta, Ghotki, Larkana and other areas. Already, many flood victims are living in muddy camps or overcrowded government buildings, while thousands more are sleeping in the open next to their cows, goats and whatever possessions they managed to drag with them.