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Aid flowing slowly to flood-hit Pakistan

Pakistan said it has received international aid of 300 million dollars but the flow of money remained slow, and survivors lashed out at Islamabad for failing to move faster to help.

Torrential monsoon rain triggered catastrophic floods which have affected 20 million people in three weeks, wiping out villages, farmland, infrastructure and killing at least 1,400 people in the nation's worst natural disaster.

The United Nations last week launched an immediate appeal for 460 million dollars, but it said Tuesday that funding so far was just 40 percent of the target and aid agencies are calling for pledges to be turned into cash.

Zamir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said the country had received more immediate multilateral relief aid through the UN and direct bilateral aid totaling about 301 million dollars (235 million euros).

The World Bank also agreed Tuesday to give Islamabad a 900-million-dollar loan, warning that the disaster's impact on the economy was expected to be "huge" and likely to take years to put right.

A string of nations ranging from Afghanistan and Turkey to the United States and Saudi Arabia have pledged millions in cash and relief as the UN warned more money was needed to stave off a "second wave of death" from disease and food shortages.

But flood survivors crammed into sweltering tent cities or camping out along roadsides have hit out furiously against Pakistan's weak civilian government for not doing enough.

Britain, which is emerging from a diplomatic row with Pakistan, branded the aid effort "lamentable" and charities said Pakistan was suffering from an "image deficit" partly because of perceived links to terror.

Embattled President Asif Ali Zardari is due in Russia Wednesday for a regional security summit with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

He is expected to fly in to the Black Sea resort of Sochi for only a few hours after facing heavy criticism at home for failing to cut short a visit to Europe to tackle the crisis.

Zardari has told aid agencies it would take years to recover from what he called "the worst calamity of the world history".

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Source: Al-Alam