Officials from Pakistan's Baluchistan province said hundreds were also thought to be missing.

 

The army on Friday deployed troops and helicopters to help rescuers reach villagers marooned by flood waters from the burst Shadikor Dam close to the coastal town of Pasni, about 800km south of the provincial capital, Quetta.

   

"It's a big disaster," said provincial minister for coastal areas Sher Jan. "About half a dozen villages have been submerged after the dam burst its embankment.

  

"We don't know how many people are missing," he said. "There were speculations that hundreds remained unaccounted but so far we have no confirmation."

 

Badly affected

  

About 8000 people in the inundated villages of Sindhi Puso, Turati, Kurki, Zar Khor and Sharnu Bazar and adjoining areas have been badly affected, he said. "We know many people have gone into the mountains," he said.   

 

Helicopters were airlifting people
out of the area and into safety

Residents lost homes, crops and cattle in the torrent, he said, while major roads in the region about 300km from Karachi were washed away.

  

Ten of the dead were on a passenger bus that was washed away by the deluge near Pasni, the minister said. At least another 25 people were also killed, he said earlier.

  

Army, navy and coast guard teams had reached the area and rescue work was in full swing. At least 10 helicopters were airlifting marooned people to safer places, he said.

 

Relief

  

A C-130 Hercules aircraft was to arrive from Islamabad later on Friday with food, medicines and relief goods, he said.

  

"This is the first time that the rain has continued over such a long period"

Chaudhry Qamruz Zaman,
Meteorological Department

The 25m-high, 147m-long dam was built in 2003 at a cost of 45 million rupees ($758,853) for irrigation. It was full when it burst, the minister said.

  

Residents said many people were missing. "I have seen 15 bodies myself," local resident Abdul Razzaq said.

 

Meanwhile, the torrential rain and snowfall over the past week has claimed 37 lives in other parts of the country, with many more people reported injured and missing.

 

Weather officials said the rainy spell, which began on 3 February, showed no sign of letting up.

  

"This is the first time that the rain has continued over such a long period," said Chaudhry Qamruz Zaman, director general of the Meteorological Department.