Heavy monsoon rains kill 69 people in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Monsoon rains have killed at least 69 people across Pakistan and in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, where flash floods swept through villages and troops were called in to evacuate residents, officials said Friday.
The country’s meteorological service warned of more flash flooding over the weekend, after floods and landslides in Pakistan-administered Kashmir killed 30 civilians and three soldiers in 24 hours.
In the eastern Punjab province, 36 people died when roofs collapsed on Thursday, said Ahmad Kamal, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority. He added that authorities expected “exceptionally high floods” over the coming weekend.
The NDMA said Pakistan’s main rivers were swollen and that flash floods and heavy rains had damaged hundreds of homes.
The military said troops using helicopters and boats rescued 368 people from flood-affected areas near Islamabad on Friday.
In the capital itself, thousands of protesters who have been camped outside parliament for weeks to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif huddled under makeshift tents and plastic sheeting.
The protesters, who arrived on Aug. 15 in separate convoys led by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, have called on Sharif to resign over alleged voting fraud in last year’s election.
In the first few days, up to 50,000 people attended the rallies, but the crowds have since dwindled to 4,000 to 5,000, in part due to the inclement weather and lack of basic facilities.
Pakistan, like neighboring India, sees widespread flooding during the annual monsoon season. In 2010, flash floods killed 1,700 people in Pakistan.