September 3, 2006

Floods leave 1.5 million homeless in eastern India

By Sanjaya Jena

BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - Flooding triggered by
monsoon rains in the past few days have left 1.5 million people
homeless and damaged thousands of acres of paddy crop in the
eastern Indian state of Orissa, officials said on Sunday.

Over 20,000 people were evacuated after hundreds of
villages were cut off. Army troops were evacuating more
villagers from coastal districts with the authorities braced
for more rain.

"We are bothered about the fresh formation of a low
pressure over the Bay of Bengal and are closely monitoring its
movement," Subash Pani, the state's seniormost bureaucrat, told

The flood victims, with their houses submerged, were living
in makeshift tents and surviving on dry food air-dropped by
relief workers, witnesses said.

Hundreds of people are killed every year in South Asia
during the June-September monsoon season and millions displaced
from their homes or marooned in their villages.


Monsoon rains have caused widespread damage this year.

Hundreds of people have been killed in western and southern
India and millions left homeless due to flooding. At least 140
people have been killed and thousands left homeless in the
western desert state of Rajasthan in the past two weeks.

In Nepal, at least 50 people died last week in flash
floods. Thousands of people have been evacuated to dry areas
while officials are braced for any outbreak of diseases.

Landslides and flash floods have also affected thousands of
people in Pakistan.

In Orissa, continuous rains and flash floods in the past
three months have already killed 70 people and crippled road
and electricity networks, officials said.

In restive Indian Kashmir, authorities declared a flood
alert on Sunday after the Himalayan region's main rivers flowed
above the danger mark, flooding villages and damaging crops.

Landslides triggered by incessant rains blocked a vital
300-km (186 mile) national highway linking Srinagar, the
region's summer capital, with the rest of the country,
officials said.

(Additional reporting by Sheikh Mushtaq in SRINAGAR)