ISLAMABAD (AP) — Heavy monsoon rains and flash floods have killed 128 people in Pakistan and 108 people in India, officials said Saturday, as forecasters warned of more rain in the coming days and troops raced to evacuate people from deluged areas.
The annual monsoon season has struck hard across the region, leaving people to wade through rushing water in towns and villages across Pakistan and in Indian-controlled areas of Kashmir, where authorities say they are seeing some of the worst flooding in decades.
Ahmad Kamal, a spokesman for Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority, said at least 69 people have died in the eastern Punjab province since Thursday. He said another 48 people died in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir and 11 died in northern Gilgit Baltistan province.
Kamal said officials believe most were killed when the roofs of their homes collapsed. He said the deluge has injured 261 people across the country.
"We are dispatching tents and other relief items for those who have been affected because of rains and floods," he said. He said the army was using helicopters and boats to evacuate people from affected areas and had set up nearly 50 relief camps to shelter them.
Kamal said more than 4,000 homes across the country collapsed partially or completely, rendering thousands homeless. Homes in Pakistani villages are often built with mud bricks and without concrete foundations, making them vulnerable to collapse under heavy rains.
In India, authorities put the death toll at 108 people, including some 30 people killed when a bus filled with a wedding party washed away in a flooded stream. Four passengers managed to swim away, but others remain unaccounted for, officials said.
At least 300 federal rescue workers have joined thousands of state police and soldiers to rescue tens of thousands of people stranded across the region.
"The government will leave no stone unturned to help the people in distress," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in a statement.
Dozens of bridges have been damaged or washed away, and authorities fear the death toll may rise in the region as more flooding and rain is forecast for the coming days.
State-run Pakistan television showed inundated villages, submerged roads and damaged homes across Pakistan and Kashmir.
Pakistan and India suffer widespread flooding during the annual monsoon season. In 2010, flash floods killed 1,700 people in Pakistan.
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, India, contributed to this report.