HYDERABAD, India – Thousands of troops and relief workers fanned out across southern India, officials said Tuesday, providing aid to areas devastated by flooding that has left more than 250 people dead and displaced millions more.
The floods in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states, described as the worst in decades, have resulted in losses of homes, farms and infrastructure worth over 220 billion rupees ($4.6 billion), authorities say.
In Karnataka, the worst-hit of the two states, the death toll has risen to 194 and more than 150,000 are staying in hundreds of state-run relief camps, R.V. Jagdish, a government spokesman said. Hundreds of thousands more have sought shelter in the homes of friends and relatives.
In neighboring Andhra Pradesh, 60 people have died and more than a million people have sought shelter in 100 relief camps, Dharmana Prasada Rao, the state's revenue minister said.
In Andhra Pradesh, thousands of army troops have joined local government workers in placing sandbags to strengthen the embankments of the flooded Krishna River, Rao said. The river runs through the town of Vijaywada, which is home to more than a million people.
In both states, the flood waters continued to recede Tuesday after a 48-hour halt in the rain, officials said. The state governments are now focusing on assessing the damage and ensuring that medical aid reaches the displaced to prevent disease from spreading. Aid workers are also distributing food and clean drinking water in the relief camps.
The head of India's ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, and Home Minister P. Chidambaram conducted aerial surveys of the affected areas in both states on Monday, Jagdish said.
Just weeks ago, most parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were suffering from severe drought. Weather officials say an area of low pressure in the Bay of Bengal has caused the sudden, torrential rains. More rain is forecast for the area over the next 24 hours.