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Survivors of deadly India floods return to wrecked homes

Thu Oct 8 22:07:47 EST 2009
Thu Oct 8 11:07:47 UTC 2009

RAICHUR, India, Oct 8 AFP - Survivors of flash floods that killed more than 300 people in southern India began to return home Thursday to discover what was left of their houses and belongings.

Close to 1.5 million residents of the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra were displaced by days of heavy rains, according to government figures.

Aid workers said water had receded enough in many areas for them to shift focus to rehabilitating the homeless.

"The situation has improved a lot. The discharges from reservoirs have come down considerably," said Dilesh Kumar, commissioner of Andhra Pradesh's department of disaster management.

But as some people travelled back to their villages, hundreds of thousands more remained in temporary shelters across Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Returning residents traipsed through thick mud and silt to survey the flood damage.

Relief agencies have provided water, medicine and blankets to the worst-affected districts, but witnesses said essential supplies had yet to reach some parts of Karnataka where road and rail links were cut.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimated that two million people were affected by the floods after major rivers breached their banks last week.

India's central government has announced more than $US30 million ($A33.67 million) in assistance to Andhra Pradesh and over $US10 million ($A11.22 million) to Karnataka.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to conduct an aerial tour of both states on Friday.