Mon, Aug 07, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Heavy rain, floods across India claim hundreds of lives

AGENCIES , NEW DELHI AND HYDERABAD, INDIA

A boat capsized in a rain-swollen river near the Indian capital yesterday, leaving three people dead and 27 others missing, a news report said.

The boat was carrying 30 people when it sank in the Yamuna river, the Press Trust of India news agency reported, quoting local administrator G. Anupama.

Rescuers recovered three bodies and were searching for others, she said. The accident occurred about 50km southeast of New Delhi.

Yesterday's boat accident brought the nationwide death toll from this year's monsoon deluge to 359, according to reports from local officials in various parts of the country.

Most drowned in floods, were crushed when poorly built houses collapsed, or were electrocuted when raging waters exposed live wires.

Meanwhile, rescuers stepped up efforts yesterday to help hundreds of thousands of people forced from their homes by floods in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The death toll there from three days of monsoon storms rose to 80, officials said, as 18 people drowned, were electrocuted or killed as houses collapsed overnight.

A jeep carrying 12 people was washed away by a swollen stream in Araku village, 540km northeast of state capital, Hyderabad, late on Saturday.

But relief and rescue operations picked up as rains subsided in most parts of the state. Two airforce helicopters and a dozen speedboats were taking food to nearly 1,000 villages and parts of some towns cut off by the floods.

"Over half a million people living in low-lying areas of 12 river front districts have been displaced due to the three-day downpour and flooding," Ponnala Lakshmaiah, the state's irrigation minister said.

In western Maharashtra, thousands of people were being evacuated from Nanded district, about 650km east of the state capital, Mumbai, after 25 villages were cut off by heavy rains.

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