Monsoon claims 66 lives in India

India’s death toll from a week of monsoon rains rose to 66 while tens of thousands of people have been forced to seek refuge in makeshift relief camps, news reports said today.

India’s death toll from a week of monsoon rains rose to 66 while tens of thousands of people have been forced to seek refuge in makeshift relief camps, news reports said today.

At least 13 people have died in western Gujarat state amid heavy downpours over the past four days, while officials in eastern Indian state of Orissa reported 15 deaths, most of them caused by lightening, the Press Trust of India said. The rains hit Orissa last Monday.

No new deaths were reported in southern Kerala state, where the seasonal rains struck on May 25 – a week ahead of schedule – damaging homes and destroying farmland. Officials in state had previously reported 21 deaths there, caused by flooding and collapsed buildings.

Hundreds of people were living in relief camps after flooding wrecked their homes.

The annual rains, which have been moving up the coast since hitting Kerala, arrived on Tuesday in the western state of Maharashtra, 10 days ahead of schedule, killing at least 16 people there over the past week.

This year’s monsoon also struck north-east India days ahead of schedule, and an elderly person was swept away and drowned on Thursday in the Tinsukia district of Assam state. More than 10,000 people in the state have been evacuated to makeshift government relief camps.

In 2004, more than 200 people died in Assam and over 10 million were forced by flooding into relief camps.

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