12/07/2010, 00.00
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Floods ravage India, 181 dead and tens of thousands displaced

Southern India rocked by exceptionally violent monsoons. Over 29 thousand homes destroyed or damaged, 150 thousand hectares of crops ravaged. Relief hampered by broken roads and bridges.

Mumbai (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Floods are devastating southern India, and in particular the state of Tamil Nadu. 181 people have died and tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes after torrential rains. Several rivers burst their banks and many cities and villages have been overrun by water, several meters high in some places, which has also destroyed large areas of cultivated land.

The authorities are trying to address the emergency setting up tent cities to house the tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes. The north-western monsoons, which typically affect this part of India between October and December were particularly strong this year. The rain increased in intensity in recent days, and brought the total death toll to 181 units. Most people died due to collapsed buildings, drowning and electric shocks.

"Tens of thousands of people were uprooted from their homes, and about 29 thousand  houses of mud and reeds have been destroyed," said an State official who is carrying out an inventory of the situation. In Tamil Nadu 11 out of 23 districts have been severely affected by floods, particularly those on the north-east coast: Chennai, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Villupuram. The losses are very high among farmers. An initial estimate suggests that about 150 thousand hectares of cultivated land, especially rice, have been lost beneath the waters.

Rescue operations are being hampered by the fact that the flooding also caused severe damage to infrastructure in the affected regions: roads, power lines and bridges were damaged or broken. The authorities have warned fishermen not to put out to sea until the violence of the monsoon has passed. The force of the storm will not diminish for at least another 24 hours, due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal. The front will move later toward the nearby states of Andhra Pradesh.

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