Worst floods for 50 years hit southern India

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The Independent Online

After the devastating floods that struck much of north-eastern India and Nepal three weeks ago, now it is the turn of southern India to be inundated.

After the devastating floods that struck much of north-eastern India and Nepal three weeks ago, now it is the turn of southern India to be inundated.

In the worst flooding to strike the southern state of Andhra Pradesh for 50 years, 130 people have been killed, tens of thousands made homeless and the lives of millions more disrupted. As the waters began to recede from most parts of Hyderabad, the state capital, yesterday, army and air force boats were out rescuing marooned villagers, while helicopters plucked up those who had taken refuge in trees and on high walls and on the roofs of buildings and carried them to safety.

Under the leadership of its keenly focused chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh has striven to become known as India's most dynamic region, leading the nation in high technology and boasting the first Microsoft research laboratory outside the United States. But this week, as the result of a depression in the Bay of Bengal, the state was having to get to grips with challenges that were at once more familiar and more elemental.

It was the poorest who bore the brunt, with large tracts of low-lying slums submerged and many flimsy shanties torn apart by the fury of the waters. In the countryside the heavy rains caused catastrophic damage to crops and homes, with one particularly hard hit area, Guntur, which Mr Naidu toured by helicopter, reporting losses of one billion rupees (£15m).

In parliament in New Delhi the government announced that it had released 100 million rupees in emergency aid, but MPs from Andhra Pradesh angrily demanded more.

So far the state has received 50 per cent more rainfall than is normal in the monsoon season, which is expected to last until September.

* An earthquake in south-west China has injured hundreds and left 177,000 homeless, a government official said yesterday. Although Chinese seismologists initially said there were no reports of casualties or damage in the magnitude-5.1 shock on Monday in Yunnan province, the official and the state-run China Daily newspaper described damage there as widespread. (AP)

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