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India: Heavy rains submerge south India, blackout Karachi

NEW DELHI, June 24 (Reuters) - Aid workers backed by military helicopters battled on Sunday to provide food for 200,000 people displaced by monsoon floods in southern India, while the Pakistani city of Karachi was mostly without power after a storm killed 43 people.

In the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, reeling after two days of heavy rains, officials revised down the death toll to 35, but said 24,000 houses had collapsed and 200,000 people were now homeless.

Officials had earlier put the death toll in the state at 45.

"Soldiers and naval helicopters have taken up rescue operations in Kurnool and Guntur districts ... where people are stranded on rooftops and up trees," said Preeti Sudan, the state's disaster management commissioner.

She said half a million food packets and a million water sachets were being handed out to people in 300 relief centres in the state where rains have since eased.

Every year thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless across South Asia by months of monsoon rains which are vital for farmers and the wider economy but which leave a trail of destruction in their wake.

In Pakistan's Karachi, with a population of 10 million and where the annual monsoon is yet to arrive, officials said much of the city had been without power for more than 12 hours.

"We are doing our best to restore power supply, but I must say situation is very bad," said Syed Sultan Hasan, a spokesman for Karachi's power utility, said.

Angry residents hurled stones at passing cars and power company vehicles, and burned tyres to protest the power outage.

Regional Health Minister Sardar Ahmed said 43 people were confirmed dead after Saturday's storm. Some were electrocuted as power lines fell and others crushed as homes collapsed.

Weather officials predicted more rains for late on Sunday.


In India's financial capital, Mumbai, heavy monsoon rains flooded homes and streets where a century-old British-built drainage system failed to cope with the stormwater.

At least one person was killed when a wall collapsed. People waded through waste deep water in low-lying neighbourhoods.

Media reports said about 50 people had died in the rains in the western state of Maharashtra -- of which Mumbai is the capital -- over the past three days. Most were either homeless or poor farmers. Some were hit by lightning. In the southwestern tourist state of Kerala about 20 people have died over the past two days, many electrocuted by falling power lines or killed in landslides.

But it was Andhra Pradesh that was worst hit.

"Food and water has reached us after 24 hours," said P.Gopala Rao, a school teacher in Macherla, one of the 5,000 people living in relief camp in the town 150 km southeast of the state capital, Hyderabad.

Officials said 5,000 medical teams were touring affected areas to try and prevent major disease outbreaks.

In northern areas of Bangladesh, about 30 people have died of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases over the past week after floods in the Brahmaputra river.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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