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South Asian flood toll rises

Heavy rains claim at least 225 lives and leave millions marooned.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published August 5, 2007


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LUCKNOW, India - Helicopters dropped food to almost 2-million marooned Indian villagers on Saturday as the death toll from unusually heavy monsoon rains and floods in South Asia rose to more than 225.

The food drops to 2,200 villages cut off by flooding aimed to help desperate residents in the worst-hit eastern parts of India's Uttar Pradesh state. Umesh Sinha, the state relief commissioner, also said nearly 280,000 acres of rice paddy crops had been destroyed.

In India's northeastern Assam state, flooding forced rhinos from their habitat at the Kaziranga National Park and their panicked charges killed one person and injured two others, wildlife officials said.

At least 229 people have been killed in India and neighboring Bangladesh, and 19-million driven from their homes in recent days. The South Asian monsoon season runs from June to September as the rains work their way across the subcontinent, a deluge that scatters floods and landslides across the region and kills hundreds of people every year.

The number of dead in Bangladesh rose to 81 Saturday, up from 65 a day earlier, the country's information ministry said. Raging floodwaters have battered 38 out of 64 districts in the delta nation of 145-million people.

Fakhruddin Ahmed, head of Bangladesh's military-backed interim government, visited the northwestern district of Sirajganj on Saturday. Despite the devastation, he said the government had enough food and medicine to distribute and foreign assistance wasn't yet needed.

[Last modified August 5, 2007, 02:01:21]


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