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Pakistani Prime Minister Travels To Flood-Stricken Area As UN Sends Aid

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Flood victims use a cot to salvage belongings from their flooded home in Jaffarabad, Pakistan, on September 5.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has traveled to southern Pakistan to view the destruction caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains.

Sharif was met by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in the city of Sukkur on the Indus River before touring the flood-stricken area by helicopter.

Planes carrying relief items began arriving on September 5 in the southern port city of Karachi to help the country recover from the deadly floods.

Two planes sent by the UN refugee agency and one sent by Turkmenistan landed, and two more planes sent by the UN were expected later in the day.

Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on September 5 raised the death toll in the disaster to 1,314, including 458 children. More than 33 million people have been affected by the flooding, which has been caused by record monsoon rains and melting glaciers.

The provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are the worst-affected.

The government of Balochistan said it did not have enough resources to provide sufficient assistance to the flood victims.

Balochistan Deputy Minister Abdul Qudous Bizenjo said he will call on the federal government and international community to send aid. His secretary, Lal Khan Jafar, told RFE/RL on September 4 that the provincial government had asked opposition parties to cooperate.

Opposition leader Malik Sikandar told RFE/RL that the opposition and the government had decided that they will work together to help the flood victims.

Sikandar added that the opposition had advised the government to provide transparently so that the real victims are identified and benefit from it.

The NDMA said that 260 people were killed by the flooding in Balochistan and more than 63,000 houses were damaged.

On September 4, authorities cut into a levy on Pakistan's largest freshwater lake, Lake Manchar, in an effort to reduce water levels and keep it from swamping densely populated areas, including the city of Sehwan.

However, officials said on September 5 that water levels in the lake remained perilously high.

"The water level at Lake Manchar has not come down," Jam Khan Shoro, a minister in Sindh Province, said.

The same day, two planes loaded with aid from the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, landed in Karachi, with two more expected later in the day. A separate plane with aid from Turkmenistan also arrived in the southern port city. Planes carrying aid from other countries were also expected in Pakistan.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week urged the world to stop "sleepwalking" through the unfolding humanitarian crisis. Guterres plans to visit the flooded areas on September 9.

The Pakistani government and the United Nations have attributed the extreme weather to climate change. The floods followed record-high summer temperatures across Pakistan.

Hard-hit Sindh and Balochistan provinces have received rainfall almost six times their respective 30-year averages this year.

The NDMA has said some 6,000 kilometers of roads, 246 bridges, and about 1.6 million homes have been damaged or destroyed since the monsoons began in June. In addition, crops and livestock have been wiped out.

Access to safe drinking water has become an acute issue in many areas.

The government has said it will cost $10 billion and take many years for the country to cope with the disaster.

Last week, the United States announced $30 million in aid for Pakistani flood victims.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

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