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UN estimates more than $1 billion damage from the Pakistan flooding

By Gabriella Casanas, CNN
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Aid slow to reach Pakistan flood victims
  • U.N. estimates more than a billion dollars damage from the Pakistan flooding
  • U.N. preparing initial flood emergency response plan to address the immediate needs
  • U.N. estimates 1,400 people killed by the flood waters so far, but says number may rise

United Nations (CNN) -- The United Nations estimates more than a billion dollars damage from the Pakistan flooding.

In a phone conference to reporters in New York Friday, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan said the cost to rebuild the affected parts of the country "has to be measured in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more than a billion."

Martin Mogwanja, the UN's coordinator in Islamabad, Pakistan, said, "There is going to be a tremendous cost in terms of repairing roads, bridges, telecommunications and electricity infrastructure," and most importantly, the farming and irrigation infrastructure.

The United Nations is preparing an initial flood emergency response plan to address the immediate needs of Pakistan and the affected population, he said.

Mogwanja said the response will cover 90 days initially and "will address the most pressing needs in the area of food security, health care, sanitation and shelter."

The U.N. plan and a flash appeal for funding will be introduced to the international community in the near future, he said.

Video: More rain on the way in Pakistan
Video: Floods hit Punjab
Video: Pakistan flooding spreads
  • Pakistan
  • Floods
  • United Nations

"An estimated 1,400 people have been killed by the flood waters so far, but this number may rise as new bodies may be found," said Mogwanja.

The terrain is so waterlogged that many families can't bury their loved ones at traditional burial grounds.

Some people are traveling to higher ground to conduct burials, and others are waiting for family members and the appropriate time, Mogwanja said.

"It is indeed, a very, very sad occasion," he said.

"More than 250,000 homes have been badly damaged or destroyed, leaving at least 1.5 million people homeless," said Mogwanja.

To help combat homelessness, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has provided more than 11,000 tents.

Pakistan has reported that at least 12 million people are affected by the flood but Mogwanja said only 4 million have been affected and that the estimate could rise.

"These estimates that we are providing are based upon the figures that we are receiving from the disaster management authorities in different provinces," Mogwanja said.

He said monsoon season could last two to four weeks and that the United Nations and its partners have been providing emergency assistance since the start of the flood.

The priorities which have been provided for so far include: 500 metric tons of food from the World Food Programme, clean drinking water from UNICEF to more than 700,000 people, and 40 cholera kits from the World Health Organization to health centers in Pakistan.

"However, this is only a small fraction of what is required, given the scale of this disaster and also its geographic scope, spreading across the poor, large provinces of the country," Mogwanja said.