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Flash Floods Pakistan*

July 23, 2001

Flash Floods, Mudslides Kill

At Least 91 People in Pakistan

Associated Press

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Torrential rains caused a mass of mud to roar down a mountainside and bury dozens of homes in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 62 people and injuring scores more. Elsewhere, floods and mudslides left another 29 dead.

Many others were missing and the death toll could rise, police said. By midday Monday, 24 inches of rain had fallen in Islamabad -- the heaviest downpour recorded in the capital in 100 years, weather officials said.

As torrential rains pounded large parts of northern and central Pakistan, the government implored people living close to rivers and canals to leave their homes.

Rescuers were digging frantically through mountains of mud, pulling out bodies and survivors. Some people were dragged downstream by raging rivers, rescue workers said.

The worst-hit area was Mansehra district, where a river of mud buried homes in a tiny village called Old Dadar, 66 miles north of the capital Islamabad, police officials said. Sixty-two people were killed there.

Details from the remote, mountainous area in northern Pakistan were sporadic, with many telephone lines to Mansehra down because of the rain, government officials and police said.

In Buner, a town 120 miles north of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan, a flash flood killed 25 people when it engulfed their homes in water, police said. In Islamabad, rains caused several homes in poor districts to collapse, killing four people. The overall death toll stood at 91.

Reports from villages near Buner said residents were using their hands to dig through the mud in search of survivors.

Dozens of homes, many made of sunbaked mud, collapsed and were washed away in the lashing rains that caused rivers to swell and mountains to shed giant rivers of mud.

"We have appealed to the people living close to the river and canals to move to safer areas," said Azmat Hayyat, an official of the Pakistan's Meteorological department in Islamabad.

Several mud homes in some of the poorest areas of Islamabad also collapsed, killing four people. Rescue workers dug several small children from the rubble.

The army has been deployed to assist rescue workers in the hardest-hit areas.

The monsoon season in Pakistan started earlier this year after a prolonged dry spell. The meteorological department has forecast record rains this season.

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