by Staff Writers
Guwahati, India (AFP) July 30, 2016
Floods triggered by days of torrential monsoon rains have claimed more than 50 lives in eastern India this week, the country's home minister and reports said Saturday, with millions of people affected by surging waters.
Rivers have burst their banks, flooding villages in the northeastern tea-growing state of Assam where 26 people have died, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, after carrying out an aerial survey of the worst-affected districts.
"The flood situation is really grim. Twenty-six people have died over seven days and some 3.6 million people are affected," Singh told reporters in the city of Guwahati.
"No efforts are being spared to help the people. The NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) and army are doing their best. Some 60 boats have been pressed into service to rescue people."
Thousands of people were sheltering in makeshift camps set up along highways and on higher ground in the flood-ravaged state.
Severe floods have also hit the state of Bihar where 26 people have also died and several thousands have been displaced, the Press Trust of India news agency reported Friday.
Scores of people die every year from flooding and landslides during the monsoon rains in India and neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh.
In Nepal, floods and landslides have killed more than 90 people at a time when millions of Nepalis are still living in makeshift huts after a devastating earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people in 2015.
Thousands stranded near New Delhi as rains flood roads
Television images showed thousands of partially submerged cars stranded in miles-long jams on a key highway and link roads connecting New Delhi with the satellite town of Gurgaon.
Office-goers and locals were pictured wading through knee-deep water after heavy monsoon rains deluged streets late Thursday.
Local authorities issued an order Friday asking people to avoid travelling to the area in northern Haryana state and shut schools for two days.
Dubbed "Millennium City", Gurgaon is home to scores of top multinational companies, expensive condominiums, a world-class golf course, top hospitals and gleaming shopping malls.
However, like many Indian cities it lacks an efficient drainage system making it prone to flooding.
"People coming to Gurgaon from Delhi are advised to stay back today to avoid being stuck in traffic jams due to flooding on roads," Gurgaon police posted on Twitter.
Anubhuti Sharma was unable to pick up her child from a creche a few kilometres away from her office after getting stuck.
"I had to pick my child at 7:00 pm but got stuck in the jam till 9:30 pm. My relative picked him at 8:00 pm and was stranded on road for two hours," Sharma told AFP.
Several commuters took to social media to vent their anger.
"Gurugram! What a nightmare. 5 hours to cover 1 km. Parked car on roadside, slept in the car and now back in office," Rajesh Mehta wrote on Twitter.
Gurgaon was in April formally renamed Gurugram by the local Hindu nationalist government.
Crumbling civic infrastructure, clogged drains and uncontrolled construction in Indian cities results in widespread flooding of roads during the rainy season.
The four-month-long monsoon begins in June and is vital for irrigating farmland of more than 330 million Indian farmers.
But excess rains in many parts in east and north India have resulted in flooding, killing dozens and displacing millions.
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