KARACHI, Pakistan / NEW DELHI, India
Torrential rains followed by flash floods have claimed over 220 lives across India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, officials and local media said Wednesday.
The Met Office has forecast more rains in the next 24 to 48 hours as the region is under the grip of a westerly cycle of thunderstorms and gusty winds.
Thunderstorms in northern, central and western Indian states late on Tuesday have killed at least 50 people, local media reported.
The most affected state was Rajasthan from where 21 deaths were reported, said Ashutosh Pednekar, relief officer in the state, told Anadolu Agency.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish over the loss of lives due to unseasonal rains.
"Authorities are monitoring the situation very closely. All possible assistance is being given to those affected," he tweeted.
In neighboring Pakistan, rains followed by flash floods have killed 39 and injured dozens in the last two days, officials and local media reported on Wednesday.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority, a state-run agency that coordinates between different relief and rescue organizations, most of the deaths have been reported from northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and southwestern Balochistan provinces.
Over 2,000 houses and huge quantity of standing wheat crop damaged due to heavy rains in Punjab, Mian Khalid Mehmood, provincial minster for disaster management, told reporters.
Heavy rains caused flash floods in parts of KP and Balochistan forcing hundreds of residents to move to safer places, while several cities of northeastern Punjab province also received heavy downpour, local broadcaster Geo News reported.
Footage aired on television showed several vehicles trapped in waist-deep water as rescue workers backed by army troops help them in parts of Balochistan.
The unseasonal rains flanked by gusty winds also downed trees, electricity poles and signboards in several cities apart from causing damage to standing crop of wheat, mainly in Punjab.
Most deaths were due to roof collapse and electrocution.
134 killed in Afghanistan
Authorities in Afghanistan extended flash flood warnings on Wednesday to 22 out of a total of 34 provinces in the country amid forecast of more rains.
The country’s National Disaster Management Authority announced emergency teams have been formed to monitor and clean vulnerable areas including the informal settlements around the Kabul River on the outskirts of the capital Kabul.
After a spell of drought-like situation for months, Afghanistan received bucking rain in the past couple of weeks resulting in flash floods in Herat, Helmand, Badghes, Badakhshan, Ghor, Kunduz, Logar, Diakundi and a number of other provinces.
The local Azadi Radio reported today at least 134 people got killed and thousands of homes destroyed by rain and flood in the past three weeks.
* Shadi Khan Saif contributed to the report from Kabul, Afghanistan
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