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Deaths from heavy rains up to 53 in Pakistan

Pakistani soldiers rescue family from an areflooded by heavy rains outskirts Karachi Pakistan Sunday Aug. 4 2013. | AP Photo

Pakistani soldiers rescue a family from an area flooded by heavy rains on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013. | AP Photo

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ISLAMABAD — Heavy rains that caused flash floods and collapsed houses in different parts of Pakistan have killed 53 people over the past three days, a Pakistani official said Monday.

Civil and military authorities have launched rescue and relief efforts to deal with the crisis, said Brig. Kamran Zia, a senior member of the National Disaster Management Authority. He said the deaths from the flooding span the entire country.

In neighboring Afghanistan, the same storm system hit in the eastern part of the country, leveling homes and killing at least 69 people in five provinces since Saturday, Afghan relief official Mohammad Daim Kakar said on Monday.

In Pakistan, 12 people were killed in the semiautonomous tribal region in the northwest, eight in neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and three in the Pakistan-held part of the disputed Kashmir region. Twelve people also died in central Punjab province, 10 in southwestern Baluchistan, and eight in southern Sindh.

Flooding was especially bad in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, because of the southern city’s faulty drainage system, Zia said.

Pakistan regularly suffers from flooding during the monsoon season, which usually runs through July and August. The country suffered the worst floods in its 66-year history in 2010, when floodwaters inundated one-fifth of the country, killing over 1,700 people. More than 20 million people were affected at the time.

Also Monday, a bomb exploded on a passenger train in central Punjab province, wounding 14 people, three of them seriously, said provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah. The bomb was hidden in a washroom on the train, which was headed to Karachi, said Sanaullah.

Meanwhile, security forces were on high alert in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, because of intelligence indicating militants may stage attacks in the city, said Interior Ministry spokesman Omar Hamid Khan. The threat came about a week after the Taliban freed 250 prisoners from a jail in the northwest, including several dozen militants. The intelligence indicated some of these militants could be used in an attack on Islamabad, said Khan.

Police and military officials conducted a search operation in the Margalla Hills next to Islamabad in connection with the threat, said police spokesman Naeem Iqbal. The thickly forested hills could provide militants with cover in an attempt to infiltrate the city.



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