PATNA, India – Authorities stepped up efforts Thursday to deliver food and evacuate villagers stranded by monsoon flooding in eastern India, as searchers reported finding 28 more bodies, bringing the country's seasonal death toll to 335.
With relentless rains finally easing, air force helicopters dropped food parcels, and hundreds of boats tried to reach nearly 100,000 people marooned in more than 1,300 villages in the eastern state of Orissa, said Prabitta Mohapatra, special relief commissioner.
The boats have evacuated more than 120,000 people, and are continuing to bring people to safer ground, including people stranded on rooftops, Mohapatra told The Associated Press.
Since India's monsoon season started in June, floods have caused 168 deaths in Uttar Pradesh, 88 in Orissa, 47 in West Bengal, 31 in Bihar and one in Assam. Those figures include 28 bodies found in Orissa and Bihar over the past two days, officials said.
The deaths in Bihar occurred when mud houses collapsed due to heavy rains or when trees fell on residents, said Vyasji, a state government official in the Bihar capital of Patna who uses one name.
More than 9,000 mud houses in the state have collapsed, he said.
Vyasji said the state government is running 28 relief camps in Sitamarhi, the worst-hit district.
However, about 400 people blocked a highway on the outskirts of Patna, the state capital, for hours saying that government relief efforts were inadequate.
Ramcharitra Yadav, a 60-year-old farmer, said he waded about half a mile through neck-deep water to a relief camp because there weren't any government rescue boats in his village.
"This is the worst flooding I have experienced in my life," he said.
Virender Paswan, another victim, said food and water supplied by the state government were inadequate for the thousands of affected people.