NEW DELHI, India, 7 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.
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.
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."
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.
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