September 23, 2005

Indian flood-hit state rushes medicines to homeless

HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) - Helicopters and boats
distributed food, water and medicines on Friday to hundreds of
people stuck on rooftops in an Indian state after a storm
caused severe flooding, officials said.

Large areas of the southern coastal state of Andhra Pradesh
were still inundated after the powerful Bay of Bengal storm
crossed India's eastern coast on Monday, and they feared a
spike in cases of malaria, diarrhea and other diseases.

"We are concentrating on providing medical supplies
especially for children, aged people and women to prevent the
spread of malaria and contagious diseases," said Dana Kishore,
an official of the coastal district of East Godavari.

He said hundreds of cases of stomach disorders and viral
fever had been reported in the district.

More than 75 people have been killed due to electrocution,
house collapses and drowning in Andhra Pradesh after the storm
caused heavy rains and flooding. It also uprooted thousands of
trees and brought down hundreds of electric poles.

In neighboring Bangladesh, at least 40 fishermen were still
missing and storm survivors said they had seen dead bodies
floating in the sea. The government has not commented.

In Andhra Pradesh, flood waters had largely receded and
rains had eased, but thousands of people were still homeless or
stranded in waterlogged villages and in several towns on

"We are living on rooftops for the last three days without
enough food or water," Prabhavatamma, a woman in Nidadavole
town in West Godavari district, some 310 km (193 miles)
southeast of the state capital Hyderabad, said by mobile phone.

Across the 12 flood-hit districts, helicopters were
dropping medicines as well as food packets and water to flood
victims. Aid was also being distributed by boats, officials

About 150,000 people are crammed into schools, government
buildings and community centers which have become relief camps.

Andhra Pradesh has a history of being hit by cyclones and
storms from the Bay of Bengal.

In 1977, around 10,000 people were killed when a powerful
cyclone slammed the state. In 1996, some 2,000 people were
killed when another cyclone hit.