August 5, 2005

Medical teams fight disease in flood-hit west India

BOMBAY (Reuters) - About 3,000 people have been affected by
cholera, gastroenteritis and dysentery in the rain-ravaged
Indian state of Maharashtra, but there have been no signs of an
epidemic yet, an official said on Friday.

Residents of Bombay, where scores died in the flooding
brought by the heaviest monsoon rains in decades, were advised
to boil water, take chlorine tablets and test drinking water
supplies for any contamination.

"There is no evidence of an epidemic. We are taking every
step to ensure there is no (large) outbreak of disease," state
relief director Suresh Kakine told Reuters.

He said nearly 700 medical teams had spread themselves
across Maharashtra, one of India's largest states, where
thousands remain displaced from their homes. Nearly 40 people
were down with jaundice in the flood-hit parts of the state.

The floods killed nearly 1,000 people across the state and
are estimated to have caused losses running into billions of
dollars, including in Bombay, the country's commercial capital.

Although the rains have eased, officials said hundreds of
people have been evacuated to higher ground for fear of

"We have moved 150,000 people to safer places to protect
their lives from possible flooding or landslides," Kakine said,
adding that water levels in some rivers in the state's southern
districts were still dangerously high.

The downpours that started last Tuesday brought Bombay -- a
city of more than 15 million residents -- to a standstill for
nearly a week, shutting suburban trains and the airport.

But as flooding eased in Bombay, Indian media reported that
110 people had died in monsoon flooding over the past week in
the southern state of Karnataka, which neighbors Maharashtra.

In one of the worst-hit districts, Belgaum, some 23,000
families were moved to safer places as scores of villages were
facing the threat of inundation from the swollen Krishna river,
officials said on Friday.

India's turbulent monsoon season which runs from June to
September kills hundreds of people every year and leaves huge
swathes of land under muddy floodwaters.

(Additional Reporting by Narayanan Madhavan in BANGALORE)