Monsoon floods kill 90 in India

Authorities asked air force helicopters to help evacuate nearly 300 passengers stranded in a train on flooded rail tracks in western Gujarat state where heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 90 people this week, a news report said today.

Authorities asked air force helicopters to help evacuate nearly 300 passengers stranded in a train on flooded rail tracks in western Gujarat state where heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 90 people this week, a news report said today.

Nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated from their flooded homes to higher ground in the state, Press Trust of India quoted officials as saying in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat state.

“There is up to five feet of water on the rail tracks,” said KK Dubey, a railway spokesman. “We got phone calls from the passengers who are stuck on board the Shanti Express. They said that the water level was rising, and it has entered their coaches.”

Army soldiers were on their way to help passengers and the air force also has been asked to use helicopters to rescue them, he said.

The passengers have been stranded since yesterday in the train at the Dakor railroad station, 45 miles south-east of the state capital.

Meanwhile, air force helicopters dropped food and drinking water packets for the passengers and also rescued a trekking team from an army medical college in the Kinnaur hills in northern Himachal Pradesh state, a Defence Ministry statement said.

India’s monsoon season begins in June and continues until the end of September, and downpours have lashed the state since Sunday, submerging vast areas.

“More than 90 people have lost their lives and more than 200,000 people have been evacuated to safer places by authorities,” PTI quoted Gujarat state Revenue Minister Patel as saying.

Most of the deaths have occurred in Gujarat state due to flood waters sweeping people away and electric shocks caused by uprooted electricity poles, PTI quoted VK Duggal, the federal Home Secretary, as saying.

The state government ordered all schools and colleges closed until Monday.

A heat wave that preceded the monsoon season claimed nearly 400 lives in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan with temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) .

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