Monsoon floods claim more lives in India

Monsoon flooding in eastern and central India claimed more lives, while rains triggered landslides in Kashmir.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 18:50 IST

Monsoon flooding in eastern and central India claimed more lives, while incessant rains triggered landslides in Himalayan Kashmir, blocking a key highway that links the region to the rest of the country, officials and news reports said on Saturday.

At least seven people were drowned in central Madhya Pradesh state and two children were washed away and feared dead in the neighbouring Orissa state.

Water from the overflowing rivers has inundated large swaths of land in both states over the last three days, leaving tens of thousands of residents stranded.

The rains have killed more than 800 people this year across India, with most deaths blamed on drowning, landslides, house collapses or electrocution. However, many areas do not keep accurate death tolls, and the total number of people killed is likely to be much higher.

Rains lashed other parts of the country as well, and weather officials said the downpour over north and eastern India will most likely continue through Sunday.

In New Delhi, rains left many roads waterlogged, causing traffic snarls at several places.

Meanwhile, authorities closed the Jammu-Srinagar highway, which connects the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir to the rest of the country, after a series of overnight landslides, said police officer Abdul Hamid.

More than 100 trucks and buses were stranded on the highway, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, he said. The rains also forced officials to shut another highway that connects Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state, to the Ladakh region, bordering Pakistan and China, Hamid said.

Ahmed, a senior state official in Kashmir, said a flood alert was announced after water levels in the Jehlum river crossed the danger mark.

The monsoon season, which runs from June through September, is eagerly awaited each year in India, where some 600 million people depend on agriculture for a living. However, it also brings widespread destruction.

First Published: Sep 02, 2006 18:50 IST