The death toll from torrential monsoon rains in northern Pakistan hit 600 Saturday, as floodwaters rushed through fertile plains destroying crops.

Pakistani government officials said they were trying to reduce the impact of the flood by breaching safety embankments along the Jhelum and Chenab rivers to divert waters to areas from which residents have already been evacuated.

Many people were killed by landslides that buried them in their homes Wednesday night. Residents blamed widespread deforestation for the many landslides.

The rains also killed 220 people in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir.

The Times of India newspaper said more than half of the deaths occurred in the Kashmir Valley, where Muslim guerrillas are fighting against what they say is corrupt and oppressive Indian rule.

Troops conducting relief and rescue operations airlifted about 300 people to safer areas, the paper said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.