Pakistan Flood Misery Spreads, Hits New Areas

  • Floods have ravaged Pakistan's southern Punjab province, destroying homes, stranding people, and damaging more than 20 percent of its cotton crop.
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    Floods have ravaged Pakistan's southern Punjab province, destroying homes, stranding people, and damaging more than 20 percent of its cotton crop.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Tasleem Mai, 25, was washed out of her home near Muzaffargarh when the Indus River reached levels not seen in living memory. She now lives on the edge of the water-logged road with her four children. Most flood victims have not gone to camps, but are staying near their homes to ensure against theft.
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    Tasleem Mai, 25, was washed out of her home near Muzaffargarh when the Indus River reached levels not seen in living memory. She now lives on the edge of the water-logged road with her four children. Most flood victims have not gone to camps, but are staying near their homes to ensure against theft.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Haggard and hungry, villagers from Shahgar wait for food aid to arrive. Assistance has come mostly from private citizens who organize aid deliveries with their own trucks, money and meals.  Anger is rising against the government among people are who impoverished even in the best of time, but who have now lost everything.
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    Haggard and hungry, villagers from Shahgar wait for food aid to arrive. Assistance has come mostly from private citizens who organize aid deliveries with their own trucks, money and meals. Anger is rising against the government among people are who impoverished even in the best of time, but who have now lost everything.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Allah Yar Khan piled his family and all his belongings on the back of a truck in an attempt to return home.  Khan doesn't know what he'll find, but like thousands, he's braving dangerous roads where trucks routinely overturn.
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    Allah Yar Khan piled his family and all his belongings on the back of a truck in an attempt to return home. Khan doesn't know what he'll find, but like thousands, he's braving dangerous roads where trucks routinely overturn.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • An overturned truck is seen on the main Dera Ghazi Khan-Muzaffargarh Road. The flood waters from the Indus River have buried long stretches of the road. Although many villages are accessible by boat — they are in short supply, leading many to attempt the dangerous crossings in trucks, with deadly consequences.
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    An overturned truck is seen on the main Dera Ghazi Khan-Muzaffargarh Road. The flood waters from the Indus River have buried long stretches of the road. Although many villages are accessible by boat — they are in short supply, leading many to attempt the dangerous crossings in trucks, with deadly consequences.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Survivors wade through flood waters washing over the main road connecting the southern Punjab cities of Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh. Residents in the village of Bahawal Nala say that some 25 to 30 people have drowned trying to cross the main road that is now five feet under water.
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    Survivors wade through flood waters washing over the main road connecting the southern Punjab cities of Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh. Residents in the village of Bahawal Nala say that some 25 to 30 people have drowned trying to cross the main road that is now five feet under water.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR
  • Families rest from the heat in the village of Baseera. Curled up on  traditional "charpoys", people have been forced to take shelter under the sky as large parts of their village were submerged.
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    Families rest from the heat in the village of Baseera. Curled up on traditional "charpoys", people have been forced to take shelter under the sky as large parts of their village were submerged.
    Photos by Julie McCarthy/NPR

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NPR's Julie McCarthy has been closely covering the flooding in Pakistan, traveling in South Punjab. She's had some nervous moments since the rampaging waters of the Indus and other rivers don't distinguish between the displaced Pakistanis and Western journalists.

She reports Wednesday that the misery is spreading. On the network's newscast, she said:

As the flood waters move inexorably south, the humanitarian crisis is widening.

In the Southern Punjab city of Shehr Sultan, residents watched as new areas were jeopardized. Angry locals complained that the government had told them the waters were receding. But a canal that the community elders say has been dry for a decade was raging with water threatening to overflow, worsening the damage already done to mango orchards and cotton fields.

The southern lowlands where the floods have expanded are some of Pakistan's richest farmland and the worst hit were those least able to cope: poor rural populations that are suffering from too little food, clean water and medicine.

The UN said while donors are realizing the scale of the disaster, the challenges are massive "and, the flood is not over."

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