(CNN) — Pakistan’s longest river, the Indus, is expected to breach its banks in the north of the country Thursday, bringing fresh misery to a nation where torrential rains have snatched lives and livelihoods.
According to the country’s meteorological department, a “very high to exceptionally high” flood level is expected near Chashma, in Punjab province.
From the Swat Valley in the north to Sindh province in the south, as many as 15 million Pakistanis have been affected by the nation’s worst-ever floods.
By Thursday, the death toll had risen to 1,343, the Pakistan Disaster Authority said.
It said 1,588 people have been injured and 352,291 people have been rescued. More than 722,600 houses and 4,600 villages have been damaged or destroyed.
Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the United Nations’ humanitarian operation inÂ Pakistan, told CNN that the cost to restore Pakistan’s agriculture sector, including its infrastructure, will be steep.
“It’s too early to give an exact number. The recovery cost will most likely be in the billions,” he said.
Many Pakistanis now face severe food shortages, and aid agencies stepped up appeals for global assistance. The United Nations launched a flash appeal for $460 million in humanitarian assistance, and the United States pledged another $20 million on top of the $35 million already pledged.
The Pakistani military has 55 helicopters and 621 boats taking part in aid and rescue efforts.
But for many parts of southern Pakistan, the worst is yet to come.
If the Indus River does flood, it will spread the floodwaters even further, damaging more crops and infrastructure.
To read more, visit: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/08/12/pakistan.floods/?hpt=Sbin
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