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Heavy rains continue to lash South Asia
( 2003-07-30 11:26) (Agencies)

Monsoon rains triggered landslides, snapped electricity cables and inundated a wide swath of South Asia, pushing the region's death toll from this year's rainy season past 750, officials said Tuesday.

Vehicles drive through a flooded street after monsoon rains in Karachi July 29, 2003. Sweeping floods caused by heavy monsoon have killed at least 88 and stranded more than a 100,000 people in southern Sind province in Pakistan, government officials and rescue workers said on Tuesday. [Reuters]

The heaviest one-day downpour in a quarter-century pummeled Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi with 4 inches of rain Monday, leaving 14 people dead, said Arif Mahmood, an official in the state-run meteorological department.

A landslide smashed a home in Nepal and crushed five children to death on Sunday. Their parents survived the slide in Aglung village, about 190 miles west of Katmandu.

The combined death toll for South Asia stood at 756 on Tuesday after more than a month of monsoon rains. India has reported 333 deaths, Bangladesh 175, Pakistan 164, and Nepal 84.

The death toll more than doubled to 27 in India's eastern state of Bihar on Tuesday, despite receding floodwaters and easing rain. Rescue officials used the letup to move mobile clinics into areas that had been cut off.

Several recent victims in Bihar died after being bitten by snakes washed out of their holes, the state's minister for relief and rehabilitation, Ramvichar Rai, said Tuesday.

He said rice and corn crops worth $2.1 million had been washed away and that 1.9 million people in Bihar had been affected by the flooding.

This year's rains have been particularly heavy in India, drenching even the normally parched western part of the country. Some officials have said they fear India's death toll might top last year's figure of 1,000 by the time the rains stop, probably in late August or September.

Among the 14 latest victims in Pakistan were four children who drowned in a rain-swollen stream, and three others electrocuted when winds toppled power lines, said Mohammed Amir, a spokesman for the emergency relief group Edhi Foundation. Troops have been called in to rescue thousands of people marooned by floods in the country's south.

Rescue workers in southern Pakistan's Badin area moved about 37,000 people to makeshift relief camps, provincial government relief Mohammed Ahsan said Tuesday.

An emergency was declared in Badin and two other districts, and the provincial government set up a relief fund of $800,000 to help thousands of villagers made homeless by the flooding.

The federal government donated another $800,000, Pakistan's state television reported Tuesday.

The floods have washed away thousands of homes and crops, including rice paddies and cotton fields in Pakistan's Sindh province, where both Karachi and Badin are located. Officials and cotton traders said Tuesday the floods could cut the province's production of cotton, one of Pakistan's main export items.

The Greek-registered tanker MT Tasman Spirit ran aground Sunday off the coast of Karachi due to the rains and high monsoon winds. Port operations weren't affected and there was no major oil spill.

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