x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Flooding kills 22 people and displaces tens of thousands

Torrential rains in the south-east state of Andhra Pradesh killed at least 22 people and displaced tens of thousands of villagers over the past week.

Indians wade through flood waters after heavy rainfall as they move to higher ground in Vishakapatnam.
Indians wade through flood waters after heavy rainfall as they move to higher ground in Vishakapatnam.

HYDERABAD // Torrential rains in the south-east state of Andhra Pradesh killed at least 22 people and displaced tens of thousands of villagers over the past week.

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

"At least 22 people have died and thousands have lost their houses. The rains have damaged all the standing crops in the coastal region," he said.

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," said Arku Rajaipa, a farmer in Guntur district, one of the worst-affected regions. "We will have to depend on the government for food the whole year."

Cyclone Nilam struck 50 kilometres south of Chennai last week in Tamil Nadu before moving inland, killing at least 10 people.

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

Authorities yesterday said many villages had been cut off for days.

"The biggest task is to establish contact with 130 villages. They are safe but have suffered big losses as all their rice crop has been destroyed," Mr Valaven said.

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

The meteorological office has forecast more downpours, and people living in low-lying areas have been advised to make their way to shelters.

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