Thursday, August 19, 2010

EXTRA: Ban: Pakistan's flood disasters a 'slow-motion tsunami'

New York - Floods have created an emergency situation for 15 to 20 million people in Pakistan, impacting more than the combined population hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquakes in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Haiti, UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon said Thursday.

"Pakistan is facing a slow-motion tsunami," Ban said in an address to the UN General Assembly, convened to nudge the world into providing relief aid to flood victims.

"Its destructive powers will accumulate and grow with time," Ban warned as weather forecasts called for four more weeks of monsoon rain, which will add to the flood problems.

Ban personally visited Pakistan last weekend to get a first-hand look at the damage caused by the floods and its impact on the people.

The tsunami in 2004 hit Indonesia and many Southeast and South Asian nations. Massive earthquakes hit Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 2005 and Haiti in 2010. More than 200,000 people died in Haiti.

When the waters will finally recede, Pakistan would need one billion dollars to rebuild its agriculture, based on a World Bank estimate, Ban said.

"In the long term, the huge damage to infrastructure must be repaired - schools, hospitals, irrigation canals, communications, transport links," Ban said.

At least 160,000 square kilometers of Pakistan are covered with flood waters, an area larger than more than half of countries of the world.

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