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1978: Floods devastate northern India

At least two million people have been made homeless as the worst floods in living memory hit northern India.

Some areas of the state of West Bengal are now 18 feet (5.49 metres) below water as the monsoons continue beyond their usual season.

The river Yamuna has risen six feet (1.83 m) above its official "safe level" and 250,000 inhabitants of New Delhi have had to move from their homes.

The holy city of Banares on the river Ganges has also been badly affected by the floods, which have damaged many buildings and roads, and swept away telephone and electricity lines.

It is estimated that 15 million people in West Bengal have felt the impact of the disaster.

Grave disaster

Much of northern India's crops have been ruined and fresh water supplies contaminated.

The Indian Air Force has been working to ensure that the worst affected areas are receiving the supplies they need, and aid agencies are standing by.

The fear now is that typhoid and cholera will swiftly follow the floods.

The chief minister of West Bengal said it was too early to count the deaths, but that this was one of the gravest disasters ever to hit the state.

In Context
Over 1,000 people died during the floods and the town of Benares was completely destroyed.

Rivers in northern India did not reach similar levels until August 2000.


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