October 22, 2005

Floods maroon thousands, kill 10 in eastern India

By Krittivas Mukherjee

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people were
marooned by flooding in eastern India on Saturday after three
days of torrential rains that killed at least 10 people,
officials said.

The unseasonal rains came after the June-September monsoon,
which this year triggered severe flooding in other parts of the
country such as the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra in the
west and Assam in the northeast.

"The situation is bad in four southern districts, but we
are doing everything necessary," West Bengal state Finance
Minister Asim Dasgupta said.

Officials said at least 10 people had died in the coastal
eastern state due to wall collapses and electrocution in the
rains and some 50,000 people were cut off by floods.

Relief officials warned the situation could get worse for
hundreds of thousands of people living in the Sunderbans
region, where two rivers were close to bursting their banks.

Rains also hit life in Kolkata, eastern India's main
trading hub, which was flooded for a second day after the
city's century-old drainage system failed to cope with the

Cars and motorcycles floated in waist-deep water, while
people waded their way around the city and residents of some
low-lying areas used boats. Many shops and business
establishments were closed and road traffic was thin.

During the monsoon season, floods and mudslides killed more
than 1,000 people in western India. The country's financial
hub, Mumbai, was brought to a standstill for four days when a
record 94 cm of rain fell in 24 hours.