130 dead after torrential rains in India

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Officials in southern India have said that flash floods killed more than 130 people in the southern part of the country, following four days of heavy rain.

The Indian army dispatched troops and helicopters to the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to rescue people stranded by the flooding. They also delivered emergency medical supplies and food provisions. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been evacuated out of the vicinity.

The rains damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, the authorities have said. The waters have also ruined crops, blocked roads, and disrupted communication links. The death toll is expected to rise as search teams reach areas previously rendered inaccessible.

The Chief Minister of Karnataka, B. S. Yeddyurappa, said that the current situation was "serious". "We have asked for more helicopters from the Indian Air Force to help us," he told media.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said that army personnel had dispatched to assist with rescue efforts. "Six chopper [sic] have been pressed into service to immediately rescue people. While four helicopters are being used to airlift the flood-hit people in Kurnool district, two choppers were deployed in Mahabubnagar district. A helicopter rescued 15 people in the pilgrim town of Mantralayam," he said.

Weather analysts have said that the intense rains come from a storm in the Bay of Bengal. "India's monsoon season usually brings rains from June and withdraws by the end of September. But, this year some parts of the country were actually drought affected due to inadequate and untimely rainfall. Moreover, the cyclone in the Bay of Bengal did the damage in south India which is battling floods after rivers breached their banks. This is a calamity. The central government is also closely monitoring the situation," said Professor D.K. George, a weather specialist.

The Indian Meterological Department has said it expects more heavy rains over the next day in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.