Image: A villager shifts his belongings from his damaged home in a village in India
Biswaranjan Rout  /  AP
A villager shifts his belongings from his damaged home in a village in Bhubneshwar, India, Sunday.
updated 9/23/2008 5:47:35 AM ET 2008-09-23T09:47:35

Heavy rains continued to lash northern and eastern India with 44 people reported killed over the past 24 hours as authorities rushed Tuesday to rescue hundreds of thousands trapped in their homes.

The latest reported deaths brought the toll of those killed by monsoon flooding to 163 over the last four days.

Most of the dead were from India's most populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where 32 people were killed by drowning, house collapses and electrocution since Monday, as most rivers in the state spilled their banks, state relief commissioner G.K. Tandon said Tuesday.

Another 70 people were killed over the weekend in the state and floods forced 200,000 people to flee their homes, Tandon said. The state government set up more than 2,000 relief camps across Uttar Pradesh to house the flood survivors.

In eastern Orissa state, the death toll over the last four days from heavy rains and flooding rose to 29 Tuesday morning, said chief secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathi. On Monday 17 people were reported to have died.

Authorities evacuated nearly 285,000 people since Friday and put them in 261 state-run relief camps, Tripathi told The Associated Press. Officials were trying to reach an addition 200,000 stranded villagers.

More rain expected
More rain is expected over the next few days and the state government has called in help from the Indian navy, Tripathi said, adding about 650 villages were inundated.

Three Indian air force helicopters were dropping food packages to stranded villagers and 1,300 motor and row boats were rescuing people in the worst hit districts.

Incessant monsoon precipitation caused the Mahanadi river to breach its banks in several places, causing the worst flooding in 26 years in Orissa state.

Another 32 people died in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh over the weekend, most buried by mudslides triggered by heavy rains, news reports said.

The latest floods came just a month after the monsoon-swollen Kosi river, a Ganges tributary that flows from Nepal to India, burst its banks and submerged nearly 1,000 villages in the impoverished northern Indian state of Bihar, killing at least 48 people and driving more than 1 million others from their homes.

The annual monsoon season, which runs from June to September, brings rains that are vital to agriculture in South Asia but also can cause massive destruction.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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