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Flash floods affect 2 million people in India

© UNICEF India/2009/Raghavan
Flooding in Alampur town, Mahabubnagar District, in India’s Andhra Pradesh State.

NEW YORK, USA, 8 October 2009 – One of the worst flash floods in decades in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka has left almost 250 people dead and affected an estimated total of 2 million.

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The death toll is expected to rise further, with many of the flood-hit areas still inaccessible to humanitarian aid workers.

Fifteen districts of North Karnataka are among the worst hit, accounting for 195 deaths, while the Rayalaseema region in Andhra Pradesh reports 52 deaths.

Floods in the two states were caused by heavy rains. The situation was compounded by the discharge of water from three dams across the Krishna and Tungabhadra Rivers in Karnataka, which inundated several villages and towns.

Displacement increasing

According to UNICEF Chief of Field Office Michel Saint-Lot, the slowly receding floodwater is causing many mud houses to collapse. 

"The number of people who will be homeless is increasing day by day," he said. "What we're looking at right now is no longer a quick relief operation, but we have to plan at least for a longer period."

© UNICEF India/2009/Raghavan
Families assess damage from flash floods in Andhra Pradesh State, India.

Mr. Saint-Lot said the floods affected the “food basket” of India and will have a destructive impact on peoples' livelihoods, which were already suffering from a drought in the region.

"We have people who have lost most of their goods and crops because of the drought, and have lost whatever is left in the floods," he noted.

The state governments – in coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the army and the National Disaster Management Authority – are conducting large-scale search and rescue operations and have started providing essential food, water and shelter supplies to the affected populations. 

Working with partners

Where the physical conditions permit, the state governments are also conducting an initial assessment of the flooded districts.

The UNICEF office in Hyderabad is in close contact with relief commissioners in both of the flood-stricken states. So far, UNICEF has used its pre-positioned supplies in Andhra Pradesh, distributing 10,000 collapsible jerry cans and 25 water tanks to the worst-affected district, Mahabubnagar.

UNICEF is expected to receive a formal request for technical assistance from the state government in Andhra Pradesh. This aid would include provision of water engineers and some supplies, such as halogen tablets for water purification, bleaching powder, mats, blankets and learning materials for children.

Meanwhile, UNICEF is working with the state government and non-governmental organizations in Andhra Pradesh to help coordinate relief and rescue operations.




8 October 2009: 
UNICEF's Michel Saint-Lot speaks about flooding in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, India.
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