NEW DELHI • More than 80 people are feared dead after heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides in northern India and Pakistan.
At least 43 people were killed in northern Pakistan, mostly in a remote village that did not get an evacuation warning before the waters hit and washed away most of the settlement, officials said yesterday.
The heavy monsoon rains began late on Saturday and were concentrated mainly in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which has been badly affected by flooding in recent years that scientists have linked to climate change.
The worst hit district was Chitral, on the country's north-west border with Afghanistan, where the flood waters killed 41 people in the village of Ursoon near the Afghan border, which is home to abut 100 families, district mayor Maghfirat Shah told Agence France-Presse.
Eighty-two homes in the village were affected by the waters, a rescue services statement said, with some of them swept away, along with a mosque and an army post.
An AFP reporter in Ursoon said survivors who had lost their homes were waiting for aid under open skies surrounded by mud and debris where their village once stood. Nearby villages had received flood warnings from the local authorities but Ursoon was not alerted in time, the reporter said.
Heavy rains and flash floods claim many victims each year, with poorly built homes, particularly in rural areas, susceptible to collapse during the annual spring and monsoon rains in July-August.
Rapid deforestation brought about by decades of illegal logging in Pakistan's north and the growth of farming along the Indus River is believed by experts to have exacerbated the effects of the annual floods.
Meanwhile, in India's northern Uttarakhand state, thousands of people were reported to be stranded yesterday following flash floods.
A state official said at least 40 people were feared dead.
He said relief operations were under way but incessant rains had hampered efforts and raised fears of flooding as rivers were close to danger levels.
In southern China, heavy rain has left 14 people dead and eight others missing since Thursday, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said yesterday.
Storms have hit most of southern China since Thursday, pushing water levels in rivers to dangerous levels and swelling many reservoirs.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, XINHUA