India struggles to get relief to flood victims

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Authorities in the eastern Indian state of Orissa are struggling to get relief to hundreds of thousands of people who have been stranded after floods submerged their homes, officials said today.

The floods, triggered by India’s annual monsoon rains over the last week, have forced 1.5 million from their homes and damaged thousands of acres of paddy crop in the eastern coastal areas of the state.

Around 73 people have died in floods in Orissa in this year’s monsoon, which normally begins in June and ends in September. Floods have also killed hundreds of people in western and southern India and left millions homeless. “We have not been able to reach a few areas, as the roads are inundated. The flood water stands two feet high denying movement of vehicles and boats,” said Jagadananda Panda, Orissa’s special relief commissioner.

“However we are trying to make food and medicine reach them by getting local people carrying materials on their head.” However, despite relief efforts, around one million people remained stranded out in the open as the deluge continued.

In the Himalayan region of Kashmir, floods believed to be the worst in a decade, killed 10 people after houses collapsed today. Landslides triggered by heavy rains have also blocked the 300km national highway linking Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital, with the rest of the country. Many residential areas in Srinagar are flooded and people have been using boats to navigate through the streets.

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