Outbreak of disease feared as rains, floods continue in India

New Delhi (dpa) - Incessant monsoon rains continued to lash large parts of India Wednesday as officials in the worst-hit state of Gujarat said they were worried about the outbreak of waterborne diseases.

The death toll from this year's floods, landslides and accidents brought on by monsoon rains in various parts of India crossed 170, with deaths also repoted from the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

In Uttar Pradesh 25 people, including four policemen on flood relief duty, were feared drowned when their boat was swept away in the Ken river, PTI news agency reported.

A flood alert was sounded in the northern hill state Himachal Pradesh where several rivers were flowing above the danger level.

The Indian army and air force were helping in relief in rescue operations in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Officials of the Gujarat home ministry said relief teams were working round the clock to provide medicine, food supplies and drinking water to the 25 million persons affected. More than 153 people have died in Gujarat and 400,000 people rendered homeless.

The state's health department officials warned of the possible outbreak of waterborne diseases as the retrieval of human bodies and animal carcasses continued.

The heavy rains had damaged roads and highways in the state and affected several industrial units.

In Madhya Pradesh nearly one million people had been affected, officials said. About 24 people were reported to have died, more than 100 villages were completely cut off and 6,000 people had been given shelter in temporary relief camps.

Large parts of Uttaranchal state had been cut off by landslides. Pilgrimages to hill shrines which usually take place this time of the year had been stopped.

Reports from the eastern state of Bihar said several rivers were flowing above danger level.

There seemed little relief in sight as India's meteorological department forecast heavy to very heavy showers in all the affected areas over the next 24 hours. dpa su tl


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