Large dam collapses in Pakistan

At least 60 dead

country experiencing heavy rains

February 12, 2005|By James Rupert | James Rupert,NEWSDAY

DERA BUGTI, Pakistan - A newly built dam in southwestern Pakistan collapsed under heavy rain waters yesterday, killing at least 60 people, officials said.

At least 100 people have reportedly died in recent days amid the country's heaviest rains in more than a decade.

The death toll has been worsened by poor infrastructure in much of the country, notably in Baluchistan, its biggest, most impoverished province.

Along the coast, three highway bridges collapsed and the Shadikor Dam burst, releasing a wall of water that flooded villages downstream, provincial officials told reporters. The 100-foot-high dam was completed in 2003 as part of a government plan to develop the area.

Pakistan has been inundated in recent weeks with rain in the south and snow in its mountains. The precipitation in some areas has been the heaviest in seven to 16 years, officials in the government Meteorological Department said.

Thirty to 40 people have died in sudden floods, avalanches and landslides, according to Pakistani officials and media reports. The military said 30 soldiers were missing after an avalanche yesterday in a valley near the Afghan border.

Here in Baluchistan, a province as big as France that is largely mountains and deserts, the rains come after years of drought and have turned desert areas south of the capital, Quetta, into bogs of soft mud. The province is Pakistan's least developed, with few paved roads.

In a drive along the main north-south road over the past two days, vehicles could be seen mired to their axles in mud.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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