Medical teams rushed to flood-devastated Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh where five days of torrential rain have left more than 205 people dead and 750,000 displaced, authorities said on Sunday.
The floods have submerged entire villages, snapped transport and communication links and raised fears of epidemic in relief camps crowded with people forced out of their homes.
Large parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have been inundated. Air Force helicopters dropped food and drinking water packages to hundreds of villages that remained cut off after roads were submerged or washed away.
The central government on Sunday rushed more than 250 specially trained National Disaster Relief Force personnel with 80 inflatable boats to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Home Minister P Chidambaram will undertake an aerial survey of the two states on Monday to assess the damage. He is also expected to hold meetings with the chief ministers of both states — B.S. Yeddyurappa (Karnataka) and K. Rosaiah (Andhra Pradesh) -— and top officials in Bangalore and Hyderabad.
12 districts hit in Karnataka
In Karnataka, the worse hit of the two states, 168 people have died and more than 300,000 have been displaced, authorities said.
From the six districts affected till Friday, the floods spread to 12 of the state’s 29 districts on Sunday.
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa urged the Centre to declare the unprecedented rainfall and flood situation in Karnataka as a national disaster and sought Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) for relief measures.
“There is death and destruction all around us,” Basavaraj Bommai, a senior minister said in Bangalore.
Authorities said vast areas of agricultural land were under water in Karnataka.
450,000 people displaced in Andhra
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, 37 people have died and around 450,000 have been displaced and were being sheltered in 100 relief camps, said state chief minister K. Rosaiah.
“We are rushing medical teams and equipment to the camps to ward off outbreaks of disease in the camps,” Rosaiah said.
Flooding worsened after authorities released water from rain-swollen reservoirs and dams in both states to prevent them from bursting their banks.
From the two districts affected till Friday, the floods spread to four on Sunday.
Armymen used boats to ferry villagers stranded on rooftops to government schools or relief camps. Doctors were distributing water purifying tablets and medical services in the camps, but facilities were poor and crowded.