5 Nov 2012

60,000 displaced by fatal floods in India

8:46 pm on 5 November 2012

Torrential rains in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have killed at least 22 people and displaced tens of thousands of people over the past week, an official says.

Downpours triggered by a cyclone that hit the coast near Chennai last week left hundreds of villages inundated and 60,000 people in relief camps, Karikal Valaven, a government officer overseeing emergency operations, told AFP on Monday.

Disaster response teams helped move people to higher ground in rubber boats and nearly 100 shelters were opened across the state to accommodate people fleeing the flood zone.

"The unseasonal rainfall has destroyed our crops and our entire field is submerged in water," Arku Rajaipa, a farmer in Guntur district, one of the worst-affected regions, told a local television news channel. "We will have to depend on the government for food the whole year."

Cyclone Nilam struck 50km south of Chennai on Wednesday evening in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu before moving inland, killing at least 10 people.

The Andhra Pradesh state government said it had handed out 100,000 food packets.

All trains were suspended from the coastal cities of Visakhapatnam and Vijaywada, a major transit route in the region.

The meteorological office has forecast more rain, and people from low-lying areas have been advised to head to shelters.

In September this year, two million people were forced to flee their homes in the north-eastern state of Assam after floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains.