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Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK

World: South Asia

India grapples with floods

The BBC's Daniel Lak reports from Delhi on efforts to help those affected by flooding across north and east India:

It is hard to comprehend the sheer scale of these floods or the devastation they have brought.

Across North India, nearly 1,500 deaths have been confirmed.

Tens of millions have been forced from their homes onto high ground or into hastily-built relief camps.

The Indian army is co-ordinating rescue efforts in some of the worst hit places.

So far the most populous Indian state, Uttar Pradesh, is worst affected. Officials there estimate the cost of the damage to buildings, roads and crops to be hundreds of millions of dollars.

Floods have also hit Bihar state further down the River Ganges and West Bengal.

To the east, Assam State and the River Brahmaputra are also being hit by flooding.

Officials say the waters there have been dropping, but have begun to rise again after heavy rains.

A common problem is that the main rivers where most of the flood control embankments are, have become so full they can't take any more water.

Tributaries back up and cause flooding of their own. Officials say this year's heavy monsoon rains are partially to blame, but most say the problem is more because of over felling of trees in the Himalayas.

That means less and less water is retained by damaged mountain forests and more flooding is almost certain in years to come.

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