Pakistan is haunted by memories of last year's floods, which killed about 2,000 people and made 11 million homeless in one of the South Asian country's worst natural disasters. — Photo by Reuters

KARACHI: Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh have killed at least 136 people in a week and damaged thousands of acres of crops, officials said on Monday.

Pakistan is haunted by memories of last year's floods, which killed about 2,000 people and made 11 million homeless in one of the South Asian country's worst natural disasters.

One-fifth of Pakistan was submerged in water — an area the size of Italy — and the government, which was widely accused of reacting too slowly, faced $10 billion in damages to infrastructure, irrigation systems, bridges, houses and roads.

“We have had heavy rains in Sindh since late last month and that has affected some 18 districts of the province,” Sajjad Hayder Shah, director of operations at the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, told Reuters.

“Most of the areas that have been affected are rural, and the majority of the people were killed because of roof collapses.”

There were no signs Pakistan could face floods like those of last year, he added.

More than a year after that calamity, over 800,000 families remain without permanent shelter, according to aid group Oxfam, and more than a million people need food assistance.

“There has been heavy damage to the red chilli crop, as well as cotton and other crops in the area,” said another official.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Pakistan's fragile economy, although officials say the recent crop damage is unlikely to have a major impact on overall output.

Shah said relief operations were under way, but added that there could be further damage over the next few days when more rain is expected.

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