June 27, 2007 / 6:55 AM / 11 years ago

Pakistanis, Indians, struggle to help storm victims

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani rescue workers struggled on Wednesday to reach villagers stranded by a cyclone that hit the coast, while in India, snakes and scorpions hampered efforts to help victims of severe weather there.

Early rainy season storms in South Asia have killed nearly 400 people since late last week and more bad weather for at least parts of the region was on the way, weather officials said. Up to 60,000 people in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan were affected by a cyclone that hit on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people. Thirty-five villages were inundated and thousands of people stranded, provincial officials said.

“The situation is out of our hands, it’s out of control. The entire town has been inundated and people have taken refuge in tall buildings and trees,” Rauf Rind, the mayor of the town of Kach, told Reuters by telephone.

Roads and bridges along the coast had been swept away while communications with worst-hit areas were patchy and much of the coastal region was without power, officials said.

We are really facing difficulties in evacuating stranded residents,” said provincial government spokesman Raziq Bugti.

“There’s no road links and we have just one option. That’s helicopters but they can’t be used unless the sky is clear.”

Scattered rain was expected to fall over the region until Thursday, a weather official said.

Tropical cyclone Yemyin hit Baluchistan three days after another storm struck Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, killing about 230 people, many when fierce wind brought down slum houses.

Power was restored to most areas of Karachi by Wednesday morning, but up to 10 percent of the city was still without electricity after the weekend storm, a power corporation official said.

A woman waits for relief after tropical storm damaged her house in Mubarak village, some 55 km (34 miles) from Karachi, June 26, 2007. REUTERS/Athar Hussain

INDIAN MISERY

In neighboring India, authorities have been evacuating tens of thousands of people threatened by flooding as the toll from havoc wrecked by the arrival of the rainy season topped 150.

Thousands of villages have been left without basic services in the worst-hit southern state, Andhra Pradesh, and some villagers were stranded on rooftops for the fifth day.

A man waits for relief after a tropical storm damaged his house in Mubarak village, some 55 km (34 miles) from Karachi June 26, 2007. REUTERS/Athar Hussain

The district town of Kurnool, 215 km (130 miles) southwest of the state capital, Hyderabad, was badly affected by flooding from nearby rivers.

“Rain water has entered into protected drinking water systems in over 500 villages and four towns,” said district chief M. Danakishore.

Snakes and scorpions in the flood waters were hindering relief and rescue operations by soldiers trying to clear debris from 1,200 km (745 miles) of roads and plugging breaches in 120 reservoirs.

Indian weather officials forecast heavy rain on the east coast, with a storm in the Bay of Bengal due to hit Andhra Pradesh and the neighboring state of Orissa in the next 48 hours.

“We anticipate heavy rainfall and strong winds of 40 to 55 km per hour (25 to 35 mph) speed in the coastal areas,” said L.V. Prasada Rao, a senior weather official.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture out to sea and danger signs have been put up at ports.

Additional reporting by Kamran Haider, Zeeshan Haider in ISLAMABAD, Faisal Aziz in KARACHI and Reuters reporter in HYDERABAD

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