COUNCILLOR Arif Hussain described his harrowing aid trip to flood-torn Pakistan as “hell on earth” - but has vowed to return to help the thousands of devastated families.

The Wycombe District Councillor took time out from his duties and flew out to Pakistan on August 14 as part of an 11-day aid and mercy mission with the High Wycombe-based Five Pillars charity.

He told the Bucks Free Press of the “utter destruction” he faced in villages and communities ravaged by the monsoon rain and broken river banks.

Cllr Hussain said he witnessed bodies floating in the water, spoke to families who had lost everything and told of the 'scary rugby-like scrums' the team faced as they tried to hand out food to the desperate in the north of the country.

The UN says the floods have affected 17 million people - killing more than 1,600, leaving five million homeless and countless others stranded or in need of medical treatment as disease spreads.

Bucks Free Press: Pakistan floods

He said: “It's difficult to appreciate just how big a disaster it is until you're there because the pictures and TV reports don't come close to the utter devastation.

“The first thing that hits you is the smell of the stagnant water, it's disgusting. People's houses have just been utterly destroyed or are full of muddy water and foot-high mud.

“Poisonous snakes have been swept into homes, in some areas you can see boats floating at the same level of the roofs of tall buildings and now there is the real threat of diseases like cholera spreading.

“We went to one village and there was nothing left. People are desperate because they have nothing and many have been cut off because aid workers can't get to them.

“We heard one story of a family putting their three-month-old baby into a cool box they had hit a few small air holes into and pushing it down stream in hope someone would find him – fortunately a man found the box and the baby was fine – but it's desperate.

Bucks Free Press: Pakistan floods

“Another man said how he saw a dead body in the water and went to pull it out, but he said he had to leave it in the water because there was no dry land to bury the body.”

The team helped to renovate a dilapidated health centre in the village of Pir Sabbaq, but he called the endeavour “a drop in the ocean to what is actually needed”.

They also met with the Chairman of the Conservative Party, Baroness Warsi, at the British High Commission, who Cllr Hussain said was "deeply shocked" by the disaster.

The group, which raised more than £30,000, is to hold a series of fund-raisers in the coming weeks, with the first planned for the Royal Grammar School on October 2.

Bucks Free Press: Arif Hussain in Pakistan

Cllr Hussain is now pleading for south Bucks residents to dip into their pockets or to donate food and blankets to the cause before the team head back out to the flood-hit country next month with a specialist medical team to treat the sick and injured.

He added: “Words cannot summarise the magnitude of this disaster, it really is hell on earth.”

Contact Cllr Hussain on 07973 743731 if you would like to make a donation.