Torrential late monsoon rains have killed nearly 140 people in the northern parts of India, officials said on Tuesday as hospitals and schools remain inundated with dirty rainwater.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the current monsoon has been the heaviest since 1994, classifying it as “above normal”, with this year’s season being longer than usual.
Over the past four days, 111 people have died in Uttar Pradesh state and another 28 lost their lives in neighbouring Bihar, government officials told the AFP news agency.
On Monday, approximately 100 people were reported dead in the two states, with a combined population of more than 300 million people.
Some 900 inmates had to be shifted from a prison in Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh to “ensure their safety and health” after rainwater flooded the premises.
Residents of Patna, the capital of Bihar state and home to two million people, used lifeboats to escape heavily water-logged homes.
Although the rains have stopped, large swathes of the city remained submerged, with schools and shops shut.
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Images showed rainwater swamping hospital wards and residential areas where disaster management officials delivered milk, bananas and drinking water pouches on inflatable boats.
Videos on social media show flooding of roads leading to traffic jams, while electricity supply also remains disrupted in many parts of the city.
Record late monsoon rains
The annual monsoon season usually lasts from June to September, but late heavy rains have continued to lash several parts of the country this year, wreaking havoc.
The current monsoon season, which began with a delayed onset and a 33 percent rain deficit in June, is expected to last several more days.
“In spite of late monsoon onset and large deficient rainfall during the month of June, the seasonal rainfall ended in above normal category,” the IMD said on Monday.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was deployed to various parts of the region for relief and rescue work.
According to the IMD’s records since 1901, India’s average rainfall in September this year stood at 48 percent above normal – the third-highest ever recorded.
The monsoon delivers about 70 percent of India’s annual rainfall and determines the yield of rice, wheat, sugarcane and oilseeds, such as soybeans.
Water levels in India’s main reservoirs were at 89 percent of their storage capacity as on September 27 against 74 percent a year earlier, government data shows. The average for the past 10 years is 72 percent.