Millions hit by heavy floods in north and eastern India

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 02, 2011 11:58 AM
Millions hit by heavy floods in north and eastern India

By Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Surging flood waters in northern and eastern India have affected millions of people, forcing many from their homes as swollen rivers wash away roads and make rescue work difficult, government and aid officials said on Friday.

Aid workers said 5.2 million people are now affected, double the figure from 10 days ago, as tail-end seasonal monsoon rains sweep the heavily-populated states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam where 158 people have died in flooding incidents in the past three months.

"The number of people affected by the floods has more than doubled in the last ten days. We have sent teams to do more accurate assessments of the situation, but we do feel it's going to get worse," said John Roche, country representative for the International Federation of Red Cross in India.

In the most severely affected state of Uttar Pradesh in north central India, 125 people have died and around 2 million have been affected, said a state government official.

"Of the 29 districts which have been affected by floods, 10 are in a critical state," said the state's relief commissioner K.K. Sinha, adding that about 70,000 people were homeless and around 300,500 hectares of mainly rice paddy had been destroyed.

The major Brahmaputra River which runs through eastern Assam state before heading into Bangladesh remains at dangerous flow levels, officials said.

In Bihar, between Uttar Pradesh and Assam, where about 2.6 million people have been displaced, local authorities said they have launched "relief and rehabilitation work on a war-footing."

But hundreds of angry villagers on Friday protested a lack of aid.

"We've been left to starve. There is just no one to take care of us," Nitu Devi, a local village elder, told reporters during a demonstration outside the office of the district magistrate in Bihar's flood-hit Bhojpur area.

(Additional reporting by Alka Pande in Lucknow, Biswajyoti Das in Assam; Editing by Ed Lane)