September 23, 2005

Indian flood-hit state rushes medicine 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.

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.

"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.

In western Gujarat state, heavy rains, lighting strikes and
flooding had killed 12 people since Thursday and thousands had
been evacuated to higher ground, officials said.

An earlier phase of monsoon flooding in June and July
killed 202 people in the state.

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.

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.

In Bangladesh, which neighbors India, at least 40 fishermen
were still missing days after the same storm that also struck
Andhra Pradesh lashed coastal areas.

Survivors said they had seen dead bodies floating in the
sea. The Bangladeshi government has not commented.