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Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 18:01 UK

Race to help India flood stranded

Floods in Andhra Pradesh

A massive rescue and relief operation is under way in southern India after severe flooding left about 250 people dead and millions without homes.

More than 350 villages are still marooned after five days of heavy rain in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states.

Rainfall has eased in the worst affected state of Karnataka but many farms have been destroyed.

The rains have come late. Only last week the government said India had been hit by the worst drought in 40 years.

Indian air force aircraft are being used to drop relief materials to the hundreds of thousands of villagers stranded by rising flood waters.

Soldiers have been trying to reach those affected in boats.

'No shelter'

Officials say billions of dollars are needed for relief and reconstruction.

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The rescue effort continues in the southern Indian state of Karnataka

Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa said 10 million people had become homeless and nearly two million houses had been destroyed across 14 districts in the state.

Thousands of livestock, which many farmers depend on to make a living, have also perished in the torrential rains that lashed the state for nearly a week.

More than 300,000 people have taken refuge in about 1,000 relief camps set up by the government.

"It is a serious situation," Mr Yeddyurappa told reporters.

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The death toll rose to 194 in Karnataka alone, state officials said on Monday.

The BBC's Habib Beary in the state capital, Bangalore, says that thousands are living without shelter or electricity.

In Andhra Pradesh, about 50 people have lost their lives in the flooding and more than a quarter-of-a-million people are in relief shelters. Vast tracts of agricultural land are under water and crops have been destroyed.

Cyclone

The floods worsened after the authorities were forced to release water from dams and reservoirs to prevent them from bursting their banks, correspondents say.

India's home minister P Chidambaram visited flood-affected areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to assess the situation on Monday.

Irate villagers in Karnataka have protested against late relief and targeted vehicles carrying politicians.

Health officials said measures were being taken to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases in the affected areas.

The rains have been blamed by weather experts on a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal.



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