Washington, Feb 1 (Agencies): Ruinous floods which Pakistan faced last year could have been minimised had the European weather monitors shared their information and it had been accurately processed, US researchers said.

Shattering monsoon rains that swept through the country in July and August killed thousands, affected 20 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes and damaged 5.4 million acres of arable land, experts have said.

"This disaster could have been minimised and even the flooding could have been minimised," said lead author Peter Webster, a professor of earth and atmospheric science at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

"If we were working with Pakistan, they would have known eight to 10 days in advance that the floods were coming."

Using data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), Webster and colleagues came to know that the floods could have been predicted if the data "had been processed and fed into a hydrological model, which takes terrain into account."

Webster's research has been recognized for publication in a future edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the American Geophysical Union said in a statement.

But the London-based ECMWF, which includes 33 participating European countries, defended itself saying it "does not give out weather forecasts and weather warnings to the general public or media."

"ECMWF provides numerical forecasts to its member and co-operating states and they are responsible to prepare forecasts for the public and advise the authorities in their own countries," ECMWF scientist Anna Ghelli was quoted as saying by the AGU.

According to the AGU, information did not reach the Pakistani people because of a "lack of a cooperating agreement between the forecasting centre and Pakistan."

"The major result of the study is that the heavy rainfall pulses throughout July and early August were predictable with a high probability six-eight days in advance," reported a daily.

 "If these forecasts had been available to the regions of northern Pakistan, government institutions and water resource managers could have anticipated rapid filling of dams, releasing water ahead of the deluges. A high probability of flooding could have been anticipated."

Pakistan's own meteorological agency also did not forecast the flooding, the AGU said, of the research funded by the National Science Foundation.