Floods kill 55 in western India as relief work continues

People look at submerged foot bridge on a flood channel after heavy rain in Srinagar, summer capital of Indian Kashmir on June 25, 2015.
People look at submerged foot bridge on a flood channel after heavy rain in Srinagar, summer capital of Indian Kashmir on June 25, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) - Relief workers were on Saturday trying to reach residents stranded by floods in India's western Gujarat state triggered by torrential rains that have so far claimed 55 lives, officials said.

Officials were providing food and water to the people affected by flash floods in the Saurashtra region, as thousands fled to safer areas following the rains that started Wednesday.

The rain has since subsided but left a trail of destruction, with scores of houses damaged as well as roads, railway tracks, bridges and electricity pylons destroyed.

An official from the state's emergency department said two more bodies were recovered Saturday in the coastal district of Amreli. "The death toll has touched 55 since June 24," the duty officer at the state flood control centre told AFP.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Sitanshu Kar said on his twitter account that the Indian Air Force had "carried out 23 sorties by 6 MI-17 V5 Helicopter and dropped 5.87 tonnes of food packets".

Officials said improved weather is now allowing workers to restore power supply to some 200 villages in Amreli and Junagadh districts which were hardest hit by the flash floods brought on by the annual monsoon rains.

Mr Bipin Bhatt, Gujarat's deputy relief commissioner, said there have been no rains in the region since last two days, helping the authorities to reach residents with food, medicines and cash assistance.

An official statement on Friday said the floods have damaged a portion of the rail line that connects Pipavav Port to the state capital Ahmedabad near Amreli, and severely affected operations at the port.

More than 5,000 animals carcass have also been recovered and disposed off, it said.

Forest officials said four endangered Asiatic lions were found dead in Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.

"Two adult lion carcass were found floating in flood water," Mr G. S. Singh, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Mr Bhavnagar told AFP.

His counterpart in Amerli said a five-year-old lion and lioness were found dead in the district.