The Indian monsoon makes 16 more lives
At least 16 people have been killed and a quarter of a million people displaced from their homes after heavy monsoon rains hit eastern India, officials said on Tuesday, as the military air was joining the rescue efforts.
The latest deaths in West Bengal came days after 11 people were also killed in the state as torrent of water washed away homes and triggered landslides.
Floods and landslides are common during India’s dangerous monsoon season from June to September and cause widespread devastation.
Annual downpours have been made worse by climate change, experts say.
Two banks of the river have been breached and flooding has affected at least half a million people in six districts of West Bengal in the past two days, the state’s disaster management minister told AFP. , Javed Ahmed Khan.
Five of the 16 people killed were washed away by the floods and the rest died when their mud houses collapsed, officials said.
Dozens of people were pulled from the roof of a building submerged by military helicopters, including a 100-year-old woman and a nine-month-old baby, Khan added.
Panicked residents had to flee to higher ground after water from a nearby dam was released, causing flash flooding.
“We fear that dozens of people are still stranded. Indian Air Force helicopters and disaster management personnel are struggling to rescue them, ”he added.
Villager Samir Nandi, 65, said he had “never witnessed such a flood”.
“Many people in (my) village have taken refuge on the roofs of buildings and are waiting to be rescued.”
Authorities have set up more than 40 relief centers for displaced people in districts affected by the floods, senior state official Harekrishna Dribedi said.
This year’s monsoon, which had already inundated the west coast, has claimed the lives of at least 250 people so far.
Last month, at least 200 people died in the western state of Maharashtra after landslides sent torrents of mud through villages.
The northern Himalayan states, including Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, have also reported several deaths.