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Flooding in eastern India kills 16

Mahanadi River bursts its banks amid heavy rains in Orissa state. About 220,000 people remain stranded.

September 21, 2008|From the Associated Press

BHUBANESHWAR, INDIA — Monsoon flooding has killed at least 16 people and left 220,000 marooned in villages in eastern India as incessant rains caused a river to breach its banks in several places, an official said.

The government of Orissa state was using motorized boats to rescue people, Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathi told reporters.

So far, 180,000 people have been evacuated to relief camps since heavy monsoon rains caused the Mahanadi River to overflow, he said Saturday.

Two Indian air force helicopters were dropping packets of food for the flooded villages where people were stranded, Tripathi said. State officials have asked the national government to send three more helicopters.

The flooding has killed at least 16 people and affected huge swathes of 17 of Orissa's 30 districts, he said.

The flooding comes just a month after the monsoon-swollen Kosi River, a Ganges tributary that flows from Nepal to India, burst its banks and a dam and submerged nearly 1,000 villages and 247,000 acres of farmland in the impoverished northern Indian state of Bihar, killing at least 48 people and driving more than a million from their homes.

The annual monsoon season runs from June through September. The rains are vital for agriculture in South Asia, where most farmers lack man-made irrigation systems.

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