Flooding victims 'died in their sleep'


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Monsoon rains destroyed mud huts and flooded wide swathes of northern and eastern India, killing at least 48 people in recent days and leaving hundreds of thousands marooned by raging waters.

Those stranded took shelter up trees, hills and rooftops in the eastern states of Orissa and Bihar and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Rescue helicopters dropped food in hard-to-reach areas, while hundreds of boats ferried the stranded to safety.

But the rains, expected to continue for two more days, were holding up rescue efforts, officials said.

All 31 people killed over the weekend in Uttar Pradesh state died when the roofs of their mud houses collapsed, Relief Commissioner KK Sinha said. The state offered compensation of $2,200 (£1,400) to victims' families.

"Many of them died in their sleep," said PK Upadhaya, a district magistrate in Jaunpur, where 18 of the deaths occurred. "Heavy rainfall hampered the rescue operation."

Another 17 people were swept away over the weekend by flood waters in Orissa state, where more than 130,000 have been evacuated from low-lying areas near rivers that burst their banks. Since the monsoons began in August more than 70 people have died in Orissa. The air force was ordered to send more aircraft to help. AP