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India: Severe floods hit Maharashtra State

© UNICEF Denmark/2005/Blanchet
These boxes of IV fluid are destined for flood-affected Maharashtra State, India, where supplies are urgently needed to help protect against waterborne disease.

By Maya Dollarhide

29 July 2005 – Prolonged heavy rains in India’s Maharashtra State have caused severe flooding. Earlier this week, floodwaters paralyzed the city of Mumbai, leaving thousands injured or stranded. Across the state 513 deaths have been reported so far; the actual number may be higher.

The flooding has severely impeded travel. Relief organizations like UNICEF have found it difficult to deliver essential supplies, such as medicines and water purification materials, to people in affected areas.

UNICEF has prepared packets of oral rehydration salts and I.V. fluid and will attempt delivery this weekend. These supplies will help protect children from waterborne diseases and treat dehydration – both of which often occur during flood conditions.

It is estimated that 7.7 million people, including 2.2 million children, are affected by the floods.

"UNICEF’s focus is to make sure not even a single life is lost to waterborne diseases," said Emergency Programme Officer Vinod Menon.

Mr. Menon said UNICEF was concentrating efforts on immunizing children and providing safe drinking water, sanitation equipment and medical supplies for affected areas.

Maharashtra is just one of several Indian states hit by floods, which were caused by heavy rains which began in late June. Rising floodwaters and strong winds have caused widespread destruction in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat.

UNICEF New York correspondent Kun Li contributed to this story.




29 July 2005:
UNICEF Emergency Programme Officer Vinod Menon describes the situation on the ground for children in India’s Maharashtra State.

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