India's floods kill 1,000 people this year - Red Cross

by Nita Bhalla | @nitabhalla | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 15 September 2009 13:52 GMT

NEW DELHI, Sept 15 (AlertNet) - Almost 1,000 people have been killed by severe flooding in India this year, while tens of thousands more have lost their homes and seen large swathes of

their farmland devastated, the Red Cross said on Tuesday.

India's annual monsoon rains have forced reservoirs to release massive volumes of water into already burgeoning rivers, bursting banks and submerging villages and crops in mostly

low-lying areas of eastern India.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it estimated that over two million people have been hit by the severe flooding this year, mainly in the region of West Bengal.

"The figures are a bit unclear but I think it's fair to say that over two million people have in someway been affected by the flooding in India this year," Peter Ophoff, head of the IFRC's

India office, told AlertNet.

According to government figures, Ophoff said, the death toll as a result of the floods is 992 since July.

The floods -- which has also affected the regions of Bihar, Orissa and Assam, as well as the capital New Delhi, -- have largely hit poor farming communities, many of whom have been

forced to seek refuge in government relief camps.

OVERFLOWING RIVERS

In West Bengal, the overflowing Hoogly and Howrah rivers, have led to over 21,000 people losing their homes since the beginning of this month, according to a report issued by the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) in India.

The report said the flood waters had affected 5,103 villages and 18 municipalities in West Bengal, causing damage to over 10,000 hectares of crops, and destroying or partially damaging over 70,000 homes.

While in Bihar, more than 300,000 people have been affected by flash flooding in areas such as Gaya and Nalanda which experienced a serious drought in June and July, said the UNDMT.

Authorities in New Delhi issued a flood warning last week after incessant rains in the city saw water levels of the Yamuna river nearing the danger mark, forcing hundreds of people from

their homes.

Aid agencies, working in the flood-affected areas, say the authorities in India -- an emerging power that rarely asks for international assistance -- have not requested outside intervention and appear to be responding

effectively.

They add that the forecast for the coming week is mixed with some areas showing water levels receding such as in New Delhi and parts of West Bengal, but other areas likely to witness more

rainfall.

"We are hoping that people will be able to return home soon but rain is still forecast for some areas, so many are likely to remain in the camps," said Ophoff.

For a slideshow on the India floods please click here

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