July 4, 2006

Indian rains kill 24, life hit in flooded Mumbai

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - Heavy rains triggered floods and
landslides in eastern India, killing 24 people overnight and
disrupting life in the financial hub of Mumbai for a second day
on Tuesday, officials and residents said.

The bad weather was caused by a depression over the east
coast and a revival of the June-September annual monsoon rains
which had hit a lean patch, leading to a dry spell across large
swathes of the subcontinent.

At least 22 people were killed in the eastern states of
Orissa and Jharkhand and several were missing in neighboring
West Bengal after torrential rains caused rivers to break their
banks and triggered landslides, officials said.

Nine of the 22 died when their country boat capsized in the
Kanhar river in Jharkhand, about 135 km (85 miles) west of the
state capital, Ranchi.

Two people were washed away in flood waters, 10 fishermen
were missing and thousands displaced in the southern state of
Andhra Pradesh as hundreds of villages were inundated.

"Four flood gates of a reservoir were also swept away in
the swirling rain waters," said V.N. Vishnu, administrator of
Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh.

Navy boats and helicopters had been pressed in to rescue
marooned people from rooftops and also to drop food, medicine
and water packets, authorities said.

"We have evacuated 15,000 people from waterlogged villages
in the district to the safety of relief camps," Vishnu said.

In Mumbai, the country's commercial capital, schools and
colleges were shut and emergency workers flushed muddy waters
from submerged streets as the bustling city struggled to cope
with a second day of monsoon rains.

The city's more than 150-year-old drainage system failed to
tackle about 10 cm (4 inches) of rains over the past 24 hours
and several areas remained under knee-deep water.

"The water level hasn't gone down a bit since yesterday
morning. We are forced to wade through dirty water," Santosh
Singh, a resident, told a local TV channel.

Emergency workers used sticks and crowbars to prise open
clogged manholes and gutters to allow rainwater to pass.

Last July, two days of heavy rain exposed Mumbai's poor
infrastructure and dismal emergency response in India's richest
city. The floods killed hundreds of people in and around Mumbai
and shut down the city for almost a week.

Weather officials said a depression on the east coast was
weakening and was heading toward Maharashtra state, of which
Mumbai is the capital.

This would bring more rain to Mumbai and the central state
of Madhya Pradesh over the next few days, they warned.