Floods Rage Toward Stricken Pakistan Province

In Pakistan, the province of Sindh is now bearing the brunt of the floods that the U.N. says are jeopardizing the health of some 3.5 million children. More than 4 million people in the province are homeless and officials warn that the worst may be yet to come.

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In Pakistan, the province of Sindh is now bearing the brunt of the floods that the U.N. says are jeopardizing the health of some 3.5 million children. More than four million people in the province have been displaced, and officials say the worst may be yet to come. The flood waters raging down the Indus River will inevitably drain through this southernmost province.

NPR's Julie McCarthy is in Karachi, the capital of Sindh, and has this report.

(Soundbite of men speaking)

JULIE MCCARTHY: We're standing here before one of the wells in the Laborshire(ph) camp that was opened just quite recently in the last week, the series of apartment blocks that have been abandoned for the past decade. When people arrived, there were water tanks here but the tanks hadn't been cleaned in 10 years. So, in the early days of people pouring into this camp, three children died as a result of consuming this contaminated water.

These are the kind of basic hardships and difficulties that the people here of Sindh are facing as the flood waters continue to rage through the province before they dump into the Arabian Sea. It's estimated that nearly one million are seeking shelter in camps that have been set up. Here in Karachi on the outskirts of the city, some 29,000 people have taken refuge.

There are eight to 10,000 people here. Displaced and dispossessed, they inhabit these cinder block housing units that are bare. There is no furniture or no stove or utensils to cook with.

Forty-year-old Zeba Lashari arrived with her eight children last Sunday. Zeba fled her flooded village in northwest Sindh, traveling 500 harrowing miles to reach this point.

Youre saying you have no idea what happened to your village and that you in fact were one of the last families to leave. So, the day that you left there was a huge storm and that the water was up to your shoulders to get out. How long do you think you're going to be here?

Ms. ZEBA LASHARI: (Foreign language spoken)

MCCARTHY: Recalling the agonizing events of the past 14 days, her children leaning against her, Zeba breaks down. Where will we go, she asks. Please, don't make us leave. You cannot imagine what we came from - it's emptied of life. Our livestock, our valuables, our property, our houses - they're all gone. Many people were washed away in the floods.

Further south from Zeba's home, tens of thousands more people are on the move. Officials keep a watchful eye on the flood barrages that regulate the irrigation canals of Sindh. They give life to a desert-like place. But the fury of the Indus River that now rushes through them is deadly. It has killed not only people, cattle and crops, but the dreams of some of returning home.

Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Karachi.

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