India rescuers rush to aid flood victims

Rains that had continued uninterrupted for more than 100 hours in Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of the western Indian state of Gujarat, and the city of Baroda, 100km south of the capital, have ceased.

    Rescue teams are taking advantage of the lull in rain

    Taking advantage of the lull, relief and rescue teams on Sunday were rushing food, water, medicine and other essentials to the hundreds of thousands of people marooned by flood waters, a state revenue department official said.

    Indian air force helicopters began airdropping food packets to the thousands cut off by the swirling waters, the official said.

    Most roads were still submerged and traffic across the state was still halted, he added.

    About 500 medical teams were on standby to travel to flood affected areas and help prevent an outbreak of disease, Gujarat health commissioner Amarjeet Singh told the Press Trust of India news agency.

    The medical teams will swing into action as soon as the waters begin to recede, he said.

    Death toll rises

    The death toll rose steadily in the past week as heavy rains swelled rivers and damaged homes and businesses.

    More than 4000 villages were
    hit by power cuts

    An industry lobby group estimated the damage at 100 billion rupees ($2.32 billion) in one of the most industrialised states in the country. 
     
    Some of the deaths occurred when the victims were washed away by strong currents after dams overflowed, while others were crushed when portions of buildings collapsed or were buried in mudslides, officials said.

    Some 4577 villages and 31 urban centres in Gujarat were hit by power cuts as rains pounded the state non-stop for four days straight, Gujarat state revenue minister, Kaushik Patel, told reporters on Saturday.

    He added that 39 of Gujarat's 187 large and medium-size dams were overflowing.

    More rain expected

    The local weather office has forecast "heavy to very heavy rainfall" over western and central India, including Gujarat, in the next 36 to 48 hours, according to a statement on its website.

    Officials were also trying to restore transport services that were severely affected as the floods damaged roads and rail tracks, leaving hundreds of passengers marooned on railway platforms.

    Floods damaged roads and left
    hundreds stranded

    A General Motors auto plant and a major factory of the Gujarat State Fertiliser Corporation have been closed, officials said, while many of the state's textile and light manufacturing units have been flooded or closed by power cuts, an industry lobby group official said.

    Farmers and glass and drug makers were also severely affected, the official said.

    Most of India is in the grip of monsoon rains that sweep the country from June to September.

    In many places, the monsoon rain volumes are below average, but in Gujarat the torrent has caused havoc.

     

    SOURCE: AFP


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