Flood victims vent fury at lack of help

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The Independent Online

Pakistani flood victims, burning straw and waving sticks, blocked a highway to demand government help as aid agencies warned that relief was too slow to arrive for millions without clean water, food and homes.

Public anger has grown in the two weeks of floods, highlighting potential political troubles for an unpopular government overwhelmed by a disaster that has disrupted the lives of at least a tenth of its 170 million people.

Hundreds of villages across Pakistan in an area roughly the size of Italy have been marooned, highways have been cut and thousands of homeless people have set up tarpaulin tents along the side of roads. But aid has failed to keep pace with the rising river waters.

"The speed with which the situation is deteriorating is frightening," Neva Khan, Oxfam's country director in Pakistan, said. "Communities desperately need clean water, latrines and hygiene supplies, but the resources currently available cover only a fraction of what is required."

Dozens of stick-wielding men and a few women tried to block five lanes of traffic outside Sukkur, a major town in the southern province of Sindh. Villagers set fire to straw and threatened to hit approaching cars with sticks. "We left our homes with nothing and now we're here with no clothes, no food and our children are living beside the road," said Gul Hasan, brandishing a stick.