Three days of heavy rain and flash floods has left 41 people dead and forced more than 55,000 from their homes in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state, officials said yesterday, sparking a major relief operation.
"We have opened up 95 relief camps ... for 56,000 displaced people and also brought in 200 medical teams to contain the spread of water-related diseases," said Preeti Sudan, the state's disaster management commissioner.
At least 45 people were reported dead and officials said many others, including fishermen out at sea, were missing after the tropical storm hit coastal regions of the state on Friday.
Coastguard boats were looking for the missing fishermen, who went to sea despite weather warnings, and were distributing food, fresh water and medicine to a huge rural population, some stranded on the roofs of houses and vehicles or up trees.
"I spent the night on my rooftop along with my family after flood water gushed into my house," said Musari Venkateswarlu, a school teacher in Guntur's Macherla town.
State officials said late on Friday that the flooding had disrupted road, rail and air traffic across the state, as well as causing power and telecom failures.
A disaster management official said the southeastern coastal state was concerned about the situation in the Kurnool district -- 225km southwest of Hyderabad -- where the Kundu River has overflowed and marooned Nandyal, a town of approximately 150,000 people.
Hundreds of trees were uprooted, electric poles felled and highways flooded as low-lying villages and small towns in Kurnool and Guntur took the full force of the storm.
The dead included 15 people swept away by a flash flood near a bridge construction site in Kurnool.
Rains had weakened but were expected to continue through yesterday. Incessant rains since Thursday night had dumped almost 200 millimetres.
About a dozen people have been killed by lightning strikes during the storm.
Hundreds of people die every year in India because of extreme weather, including monsoons, with more than 100 people perishing in a heat wave across northern India earlier this month.
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