Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 12:07 UK

India floods toll rises above 50

By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Calcutta

The collapsed highway connecting Orissa and West Bengal
The highway connecting Orissa and West Bengal has collapsed

The number of people who have died in heavy flooding this week in east and north-east India following torrential rain has now risen above 50.

Officials say nearly eight million people have been affected by the floods with two million of them now homeless.

Thousands of villages have been submerged as rivers burst their banks.

For the third successive day, Indian air force helicopters have been dropping food and drinking water, clothes and blankets to the victims.

The floods have ravaged the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand , Uttar Pradesh and Assam.

Makeshift camps

Military spokesman Group Captain RK Das told the BBC that troops were out in strength, using speedboats to rescue hundreds of villagers in danger of being swept away.

A flood victim in Orissa
A flood victim in Orissa

West Bengal has been the worst hit. The state's chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya visited the southern region of Midnapore.

He told journalists that at least 25 people had died in the floods in West Bengal. He said more than four million people had been affected by the floods there, half a million of whom had taken shelter in nearly 900 makeshift camps.

Twenty-three people have died in the north-eastern state of Assam. The latest was a woman buried under a landslide in the state's northern district of Lakhimpur.

Lakhimpur and the neighbouring district of Dhemaji remained cut off after large parts of a highway was swept away by the mighty Brahmaputra river.

Six people have been swept away by the floods in Orissa.

Train services between West Bengal and Orissa have been disrupted and railway officials say it will take more than a week to repair them.

The whole region has experienced incessant rains this week following a severe depression in the Bay of Bengal.

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