Torrential rains kill 15

2009-10-01 19:05

Hyderabad, India - Torrential rains destroyed hundreds of homes and caused heavy flooding in southern India, killing at least 15 people and forcing thousands to flee to higher ground, an official said on Thursday.

The late monsoon flooding in the past two days also damaged roads and inundated rice crops over an area of nearly 300kmĀ² in Andhra Pradesh state, said Dharmana Prasad Rao, the state revenue minister.

All 15 deaths occurred in the worst-hit Mahbubnagar and Kurnool districts, where more than 35cm of rain fell over the past two days, Rao told reporters.

Thousands of people were marooned in Kurnool city without food and drinking water, he said.

The region is nearly 175km south of Hyderabad, the state capital.

More than 12 000 people took shelter in 25 relief camps set up by the state government in Mahbubnagar and Kurnool districts, said K Damayanti, the district administrator.

Rao said that despite the destruction, the unexpected downpour helped other farmers in the region who were facing failing crops following insufficient rains. India is facing its worst drought in nearly 40 years because of the shortfall in summer rains.

The flooding on Thursday likely would have been worse if the rains in the year had not been so weak. Rainfall during the June-September monsoon season was 30% below average in the state.

The annual monsoon brings rains that are vital to agriculture in India.