India: Severe floods continue in Maharashtra

News and Press Release
Originally published
By Kun Li and Maya Dollarhide
NEW YORK, 1 August 2005 - Ongoing flooding has disrupted the lives of more than 20 million people in India's Maharashtra State, as heavy rains once again pounded Mumbai, the country's financial hub.

Schools remain shut and the government is urging the citizens to stay indoors. Press reports indicate that as many as 1,000 people may already have died in the floods.

Waters in some parts of Mumbai are still knee-deep. The renewed rains are hampering recovery efforts by nearly 130,000 municipal workers, who are trying to repair potholed roads, unclog sewers and restore electricity and drinking water. Rubble, mounds of garbage, and bloated animal carcasses left behind by the flood must be cleared.

The flooding has severely impeded travel - roads are submerged, trains and flights are delayed. UNICEF is making use of emergency supplies which were already in the area, to assist people affected by the flood. In addition, the organization is attempting to deliver more supplies from its warehouse in Copenhagen. The supplies include water treatment materials, sanitation equipment and medicines.

"UNICEF's focus is to make sure not even a single life is lost to waterborne diseases," said Emergency Programme Officer Vinod Menon. "UNICEF has prepared packets of oral rehydration salts and I.V. fluid, which will help protect children from waterborne diseases and treat dehydration."

Maharashtra is just one of several Indian states hit by floods, which were caused by heavy rains beginning in late June. Rising waters and strong winds have caused widespread destruction in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat, where an estimated 7.7 million people, including 2.2 million children, have been affected.