July 10, 2006

Monsoon rains trigger floods, death in S. Asia

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - Monsoon rains have inundated
large parts of Uttar Pradesh state in India, and 21 people were
killed in drownings, house collapses and lightning strikes over
the weekend, officials said on Monday.

In neighboring Bangladesh, at least 12 people have died in
landslides or after being hit by lighting over the past two
days in heavy rainstorms in the nation's east.

Across India, at least 250 people have been killed since
the start of the monsoon season in June.

The heavy rains have caused power outages for several hours
across Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state with 170,000
million people, including in the state capital, Lucknow.

Last week, more than 80 people died in extreme monsoon
weather in western and eastern India and normal life in large
parts of Mumbai ground to a halt for two days as downpours hit
India's financial hub.

In Uttar Pradesh, people slammed the government for not
undertaking measures to prevent waterlogging and flooding.

"It seems officials are only interested in releasing funds
every year so they can pilfer while we have to suffer year
after year on account of nature's fury," said Ram Chander, a
laborer living on the outskirts of Lucknow.

Uttar Pradesh Relief Commissioner Renuka Kumar said though
the state had an annual budget of 3 billion rupees ($65
million) to deal with natural disasters, it had only spent 800
million rupees.

($1=46 rupees)

(Additional reporting by Nizam Ahmed in DHAKA)