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Apr 26, 4:11 PM EDT

Officials say heavy rains kill 37 in northwest Pakistan


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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Heavy rains and strong winds tore through northwest Pakistan on Sunday, uprooting trees, collapsing buildings and killing at least 37 people, officials said.

The storm also injured over 200 people, provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani said. Winds reached up to 120 kph (75 mph), said Lutfur Rehman, a local disaster management official.

"It was very unusual. It took people by surprise," Rehman said. Pakistan typically experiences such rains during its monsoon season in June and July.

An emergency was declared at all local hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is the capital, Ghani said.

The rain started Sunday afternoon and caused heavy damage to the region's infrastructure, city commissioner Munir Azam said. All flight operations at the Peshawar airport were suspended because more rain was expected overnight, he said.

The Pakistani army said troops were sent to the area to launch rescue and relief operations.

Rescuers rushed victims to hospitals as roads submerged in water hindered their operations. Ambulances and rescue vehicles found difficult to enter into some areas due to fallen trees and electric poles.

Residents carried some of the injured on their backs to cars heading to hospitals.

"Nobody is coming to our help," said Ansar Khan, who said his family was buried under the rubble of one building.

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