Floods maroon thousands in Indian cities, 200 killed

AHMEDABAD, India – Swirling floodwaters inundated several towns and cities in western and southern India on Tuesday as the military deployed helicopters and boats to help hundreds of thousands of marooned people.

Nearly 200 people have been killed in flooding due to incessant rains over the past week in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Flash floods triggered by torrential rain have also killed more than 140 people in neighboring Pakistan’s northwestern region, submerging hundreds of villages and causing extensive damage to property.

Indian television pictures showed waist-high water in the streets of Surat, the main industrial town of Gujarat and the nerve-centre of India’s flourishing diamond polishing trade.

Roadside kiosks and temples were submerged and water lapped at the walls of multi-storey apartment blocks.

“I am not able to reach my house. It is completely submerged in water,” Ajay Bania, a Surat resident, said by phone.

Over 200,000 people have been shifted to safer ground in the Surat region as water entered villages and low-lying areas.

Hundreds of industrial units have been shut down and schools and colleges closed in Surat. Rail and road traffic remained suspended.

In neighboring Maharashtra, heavy rains over the last four days have killed 77 people, mostly in the state’s east and north, and destroyed crops and homes.

“About 15,000 people are being evacuated and taken to safety by army and air force personnel. We are sending them rations,” D.K. Sankaran, Maharashtra’s seniormost bureaucrat, said.