by Staff Writers
Hyderabad, India (AFP) Nov 5, 2012
Torrential rains in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have killed at least 22 people and displaced tens of thousands of villagers over the past week, an official said Monday.
Downpours triggered by a cyclone that hit the coast last Wednesday near Chennai left hundreds of villages inundated and 60,000 people in relief camps, Karikal Valaven, a government officer overseeing emergency operations, said.
"At least 22 people have died and thousands have lost their houses. The rains have damaged all the standing crops in the coastal region," he told AFP.
Disaster response teams helped move people to higher ground in rubber boats and nearly 100 shelters were opened across the state to accommodate people fleeing the flood zone.
"The unseasonal rainfall has destroyed our crops and our entire field is submerged in water," Arku Rajaipa, a farmer in Guntur district, one of the worst-affected regions, told a local TV news channel.
"We will have to depend on the government for food the whole year."
Cyclone Nilam struck 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Chennai last week in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu before moving inland, killing at least 10 people.
The Andhra Pradesh state government said in a statement that it had handed out 100,000 food packets.
Authorities on Monday said many villages had been cut off for days.
"The biggest task is to establish contact with 130 villages. They are safe but have suffered big losses as all their rice crop has been destroyed," Valaven said.
All trains were suspended from the coastal cities of Visakhapatnam and Vijaywada, a major transit route in the region.
The meteorological office has forecast more rain, and people from low-lying areas have been advised to head to shelters.
In September two million people were forced to flee their homes in the north-eastern state of Assam after floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains.
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