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Rains compound India's monsoon misery

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Author Topic: Rains compound India's monsoon misery  (Read 25 times)
Pha Yang
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« on: August 05, 2007, 06:20:16 am »

Rains compound India's monsoon misery
By BISWAJEET BANERJEE, Associated Press Writer
23 minutes ago

BARABANKI, India - Torrential rains overnight compounded the misery of 2 million marooned Indian villagers, killing another 11 people and raising the death toll from house collapses and floods in South Asia to 240, officials said Sunday.

Helicopters have dropped food to hundreds of thousands of people left homeless. The Indian army helped civil authorities mount relief and rescue operations for those living since last week on highways, railroad tracks and high river embankments in northern India's Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states.

At least 240 people have been killed in India and neighboring Bangladesh, and 19 million driven from their homes in recent days. The South Asian monsoon season runs from June to September as the rains work their way across the subcontinent, a deluge that scatters floods and landslides across the region and kills hundreds of people every year.

An aged couple and two of their relatives, who refused to leave their village, were crushed to death when their home collapsed on them Saturday night in Uttar Pradesh state, Surendra Srivastava, a police spokesman, said on Sunday.

"The Saturday night rains (in Uttar Pradesh state) have worsened the flood situation as rising river waters have entered villages forcing people to move to safer places," Srivastava said.

At least 11 people died on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh, mostly in house collapses, he said.

Helicopters continued food drops with packets containing gram powder, salt, candles and match boxes to stranded villagers in India.

The flood water was receding in eastern Bihar state where nearly 10 million people have been effected in 19 of the state's 36 districts, said Manoj Srivastava, the disaster management secretary. Weather has cleared with no rains for the past three days in the state.

"Once road links are restored, the flow of relief material will naturally improve," Srivastava said.

People have started returning to their homes in India's northeastern state of Assam, where nearly 200,000 people have been living in government and makeshift camps since last week. There have been no rains there since Thursday, helping improve the flooding situation.

The number of dead in Bangladesh has risen to 81, the country's information ministry said. Raging floodwaters have battered 38 out of 64 districts in the delta nation of 145 million people.

Fakhruddin Ahmed, head of Bangladesh's military-backed interim government, visited the northwestern district of Sirajganj on Saturday. Despite the devastation, he said the government had enough food and medicine to distribute and foreign assistance wasn't yet needed.

One person looking for that help was 45-year-old Aleya Begum, who took shelter on an embankment with more than 50 other families after their homes washed away in Pabna, 75 miles north of the capital, Dhaka.

She said the group was short of drinking water.

"I've lost everything. We need help from the government to survive," Begum said.

Low-lying areas around Dhaka were under neck-deep water, and many residents were using boats to travel around. Government meteorologists said water levels in Dhaka continued to rise.

So far this year, some 14 million people in India and 5 million in Bangladesh have been displaced by flooding, according to government figures.


Associated Press reporters Julhas Alam and Farid Hossain in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Wasbir Hussain in Gauhati contributed to this report.
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