Thu, Sep 22, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Deadly rains force thousands to flee in India, Bangladesh

AFP , NEW DELHI

At least 31 people were killed and some 62,000 left homeless when heavy rains pounded coastal areas of India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal, reports said yesterday.

All the deaths occurred in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state, which bore the brunt of Tuesday's storms, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said.

The downpours left roads and railway tracks submerged, disrupting road and rail traffic, PTI said, adding that hundreds of trees and electricity poles were uprooted by strong winds.

The Hindi television news channel Aaj Tak said some 50,000 people were left homeless in Andhra Pradesh.

In southern Bangladesh, tidal waves of up to 1.3m swamped some coastal villages and forced some 12,000 people to flee their homes, officials in Dhaka said.

Around 10,000 people took refuge in cyclone shelters near their homes when a levee was breached in a low-lying area of the southern Sandwip island, said Golam Rabbani, head of the Chittagong Red Crescent branch.

Relief officials also evacuated a further 2,000 people from the southern district of Barguna after floodwaters 1.2m deep inundated their homes, Shamsul Alam, the district relief officer, said.

Two trawlers with a total of 20 crew on board capsized. Fourteen men were rescued by another boat although six are still missing, Alam added.

Andhra Pradesh, meanwhile, was bracing for more havoc.

"We are keeping a close watch on the flood situation. The flood threat looms large as Godavari river is in spate," PTI quoted the state's Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy as saying.

Rescue teams and Indian Air Force helicopters have been asked to help marooned people.

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