CHITRAL/MUZAFFARGARH/KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited flood-hit Chitral on Wednesday as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government declared the valley calamity-hit area and Pakistan Army continued its relief and rescue operation.

Meanwhile, in Punjab, at least 170 more villages of Kot Adu, Ali Pur and Kandhkot areas have been washed away in floods in River Sindh. Earlier, River Indus flooded dozens of villages in Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Kehror Lall Ussain and Kot Mithan. The affected continue to shift to safer places.

Moreover, moderate level flood in River Ravi has been reported. As many as 70 villages of Ghotki in Sindh have lost land connections to other parts. Separately, Mozah Ahmed Bhagyala in Harappa has been completely inundated.

The prime minister, who had an aerial view of the flood-hit areas of Chitral, also met with affected people and received briefing from military and civilian authorities. He appreciated the relief and rescue work of army personnel.

He announced Rs500 million assistance from the federal government for relief activities in Chitral. The prime minister also announced 27 billion for construction of Chakdara to Chitral road as well as construction of Drosh bridges and completion of Lowari Tunnel by December 16.

According to the Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR), army helicopters were continuously conducting flights across Chitral for relief activities. As many as 60 people were rescued from Bani and Korag on Wednesday. Two MI-17 helicopters are being used for relief and rescue operations. Relief items were distributed among flood affectees in Chitral and Skardu.

Army’s Engineering unit and plants in Chitral are working round-the-clock, using heavy machinery to repair damaged bridges and keep roads open. According to ISPR, a special team of engineers along with equipment was also to reach Chitral on Wednesday. A medical team has also been dispatched for treatment of the affectees.

The current monsoon spell will continue for seven more days in Pakistan and its intensity will become high in next three days, according to Meteorological Department. The Met office predicted heavy rains for the entire Sindh including Karachi and southern Punjab for Thursday. Following rains in Sindh and southern Punjab, the current monsoon spell will spread to Balochistan.

Multan Corps Commander Lt General Ashfaq Nadeem visited Layyah on Wednesday. Talking to media he said the army has deployed 1,500 troops to aid the affected people and assured that they will be with the people at every difficult time. He sought cooperation of the people to reduce losses.

Levees have collapsed in Dera Ghazi Khan while the authorities have opened spill ways of Tarbela Dam. At least 450,000 cusecs water is passing through River Sindh at Muzaffargarh point. Crops grown on thousands of acres of land along at least 256km long river secretions have been destroyed.

The authorities have shut down canals due to flood in Head Taunsa. These canals include Muzaffargarh Canal, Dera Ghazi Khan Canal and TP Link. To add to the tragedy, boats owners are charging at least Rs1,000 per person to shift families to safer places. Army has also been moved to Sukkur Barrage to keep a close eye on the flood situation.

Sharif, who was on a day long visit to Chitral, was received by KP Chief Minister Parvez Khattak at airport. After having an aerial view and meeting with affected people, he went to Chitral Scouts headquarters where he was presented guard of honor. He was briefed by General Officer Commanding Army Division Malakand Major General Nadir Khan about the natural calamity of Chitral. NDMA Chairman Lt-Gen (r) Asghar Nawaz also briefed him on the damage of infrastructure.

Addressing a gathering of elders in Chitral, he announced an aid of Rs500 million from the federal government, to be equally matched by the provincial government for relief work. He announced a compensation of Rs500,000 for each family whose house was completely destroyed, and said compensation for partially damaged houses would be announced after damage assessment.

He announced construction of Chakdra-Chitral road at a cost of Rs27 billion and said Chitral will evolve into a modern city and would be linked with the Central Asian Republics (CARs) through the Wakhan Strip which would bring immense business and employment opportunities for the local people.

Addressing a gathering of flood-affected people in Koragh area, he announced completion of Lowari Tunnel before December 2016 and said the PML-N government was committed to serve the masses and to look after their welfare.

He announced to write off agricultural loans of ZTBL in the flood-affected areas and opening of Utility Stores in the areas cut off from Chitral to ensure provision of edible and other essential items to the people.

He also said a university will also be opened in Chitral, besides making a network of hospitals there.

Federal information Minister Parrvez Rasheed, provincial governor Mehtab Abbasi, Malakand commissioner, Regional Police Officer and other officials including public representatives were present on the occasion. Accompanied by information minister, KP governor and Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan, the prime minister earlier had an aerial view of the flood-affected areas soon after his arrival.