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Eighteen die in Pakistan's unprecedented floods, taking toll to 1,343

By Syed Raza Hassan and Asif Shahzad

SEHWAN, Pakistan, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Eighteen more people have died in Pakistan, authorities said on Wednesday, taking to 1,343 the toll in unprecedented floods that have inundated more than a third of the South Asian nation, making hundreds of thousands homeless.

As many as 33 million of a population of 220 million have been affected in the disaster blamed on climate change, which officials estimate to have caused losses running into a minimum of $10 billion.

Many of the affected are from the southern province of Sindh, where Pakistan's largest freshwater lake is dangerously close to bursting its banks, even after having been breached in an operation that displaced 100,000 people.

National disaster officials said eight childen were among the dead in the last 24 hours. The floods were brought by record monsoon rains and glacier melt in Pakistan's northern mountains.

With more rain expected in the coming month, the situation could worsen further, a top official of the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned.

Already, the World Health Organization has said more than 6.4 million people need humanitarian support in the flooded areas.

The raging waters have swept away 1.6 million houses, 5,735 kilometres (3,564 miles) of roads, railways, 246 bridges, telecommunication systems, 750,000 livestock, and swamped more than 2 million acres (809,370 hectares) of farmland.

(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan in Sehwan and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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