October 24, 2005

Floods maroon one million, kill 14 in eastern India

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - At least one million people were
marooned on Monday by flooding in the eastern Indian state of
West Bengal after five days of torrential rains left 14 dead,
officials said.

Relief workers were using boats to ferry supplies of puffed
rice and molasses to hundreds of villages cut off by the

"The flooding has left more than a million people stranded
in the state's south. We are reaching relief materials to
them," West Bengal village development minister Surya Kanta
Mishra said.

At least two rivers in southern Sunderbans region had
breached their banks, flooding 60 villages, officials said, and
large areas of the paddy-growing state were submerged by muddy
flood waters.

They said more than a dozen people had been killed by
collapsed walls in houses and electrocution.

The unseasonal rains in largely low-lying West Bengal came
after the June-September monsoon season ended in India.
Hundreds were killed in flooding and mudslides triggered by
rains during the summer which shut down India's financial hub
of Mumbai for four days.

In West Bengal, thousands of people sheltered in schools
and government buildings after hundreds of mud houses were
washed away.

Weather officials said the rains had been triggered by a
low-pressure system over the Bay of Bengal.