Bad Weather Hampers Pakistan Flood Relief Effort

Bad weather is preventing the relief effort from reaching hundreds of thousands of the millions of people affected by heavy flooding in Pakistan. The north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is particularly inaccessible, the United Nations said today, with up to 600,000 people marooned and rain stopping helicopters flying to some areas that are unreachable from the ground. The devastation continued as the UN said the number of people suffering in the floods in Pakistan exceeded the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. While the death toll in the three earlier tragedies was much higher than the 1,500 people killed so far in the floods, the UN estimates that some 13.8 million people have been affected – at least 2 million more people than in the other disasters put together. It made the comparison to emphasis the scale of the crisis, which the Pakistani prime minister said today was the worst in the country's history. "The number of people affected by the floods is greater than the other three disasters combined," said Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs. Giuliano said a person is considered affected by the floods if he or she will need some form of assistance to recover, either short-term humanitarian aid or longer-term reconstruction help. "The magnitude of the tragedy is so immense that it is hard to assess," he added. His statement came as the prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, said the floods were a bigger crisis than the both the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, which killed nearly 80,000 people, and the army's operation against the Taliban in the Swat valley last spring, which drove more than 2 million people from their homes.