Southern India: Floods Killed at Least 280 People

In southern India rescue workers used helicopters and boats to try to reach survivors of massive floods. Officials said Tuesday, the floods have killed at least 280 people.

Days of heavy rain and flash floods in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have forced close to 1.5 million people to take refuge in relief camps.

Authorities stopped evacuating residents and have instead focused on getting medical aid to them to prevent an outbreak of disease.

Rescuers recovered more bodies, bringing the death toll in Karnataka alone to 194.

Water levels were receding in many places, but aid workers had to use helicopters and relief boats to distribute essential supplies to low-lying villages cut off from road transport.

"In a few pockets, relief has not reached in time. There are concerns about providing food, blankets and medicines to displaced people," H.V. Parashwanath, secretary of Karnataka's disaster monitoring agency, told AFP.

Residents complained that electricity and drinking water were scarce, and that the prices of essential items such as rice and vegetables had shot up, AFP reports.

It was als reported, a huge rescue and relief operation is continuing in Southern India where flooding has displaced millions of people.

The states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are worst hit. The Indian air force is being used to deliver food and water to those stranded by the floods, Sanjoy Majumder reports from Delhi, BBC News reports.

In the meantime, flood waters swamped millions of acres of cropland, including sugarcane plantations, prompting worries of a fall in sugar output in Karnataka, the country's third-biggest producer.

Traders also estimated the flooding would hit corn output by at least one million tonnes in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which account for about 35 percent of India's total corn production.

Officials said 300,000 heavy sandbags were being used to fortify weakening embankments of the Krishna river that flows close to Vijayawada, a city of about a million people in Andhra Pradesh and an important trading centre.

Officials and relief agencies said flood victims were now sheltered in over 1,200 temporary camps. They included about 2.5 million people from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh who have lost their homes, Reuters reports.

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