India

India: Bombay, state begin to count losses from rains

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BOMBAY, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Heavy rains and floods in India's western state of Maharashtra last week have caused losses of at least 150 billion rupees ($3.5 billion), the Times of India newspaper said on Wednesday, quoting early government estimates.
The losses in Bombay, the state's capital, alone could be as much as 100 billion rupees, the newspaper reported.

"These are preliminary estimates, they may vary after we receive actual reports from the district collectors," the paper quoted a senior revenue department official as saying.

Rains and floods have let up and Bombay airport was functioning normally on Wednesday for the first time since the deluge started last Tuesday, when a record-breaking 94 cm (37 inches) of rain pounded the city.

But low-lying parts of the city of more than 15 million people remained under water and long-distance trains on some routes were still not running.

Small businesses have lost an estimated 10 billion rupees, an industry body said. Pfizer Ltd., the Indian unit of the world's largest drug maker, estimated its flood losses at 1 billion rupees.

Monsoon flooding in India kills hundreds of people every year across the densely populated country, but this year's rains have been estimated to be one of the worst and most deadly on record.

At least 942 people drowned, died in landslides or were electrocuted in floodwater in Maharashtra, including 429 in Bombay. Federal Home Minister Shivraj Patil said on Tuesday some 100 people were missing.

About 300 cases of cholera, gastroenteritis and dysentery have been reported in the state. Hundreds of medical teams have been deployed across Maharashtra to treat the injured, distribute chlorine tablets for contaminated water and cremate the dead.

Patil said 1,200 buffalos and 15,000 sheep and goats died in the floods in Bombay.

Disease remains a threat as many bodies and animal carcasses have not yet been cleared.

Some water supplies were contaminated by sewage and power outages have prevented pumping stations from starting in some places.

Patil told parliament that half of Maharashtra's 35 districts and more than 300 villages were affected. More than 52,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, many living near dams.

Heavy rains in the western state of Gujarat and the central state of Madhya Pradesh have also killed dozens of people this week. About 15,000 people living in low-lying areas in Madhya Pradesh have been moved to relief camps. ($1 = 43.5 Indian rupees)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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