Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited flood-affected areas in southern and western India on Friday, and tens of thousands were evacuated as another river threatened to burst its banks.
Week-long flooding triggered by annual monsoon rains has killed more than 350 people and left more than 4 million homeless across at least five Indian states.
The floods, caused by overflowing rivers and the sudden release of vast amounts of water from dams and reservoirs, have also hit agricultural land and petroleum, gas and power plants.
Singh flew over the western state of Maharashtra and the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where flooding has damaged canal systems and destroyed around 494,000 acres of mainly rice fields.
“Andhra Pradesh is the granary of South India,” Singh told reporters in the state capital Hyderabad.
“The floods, which I am told are the second-highest (worst) in history, should not affect the productive capacity of its fertile lands,” he said, adding that government would work to quickly restore damaged canal and irrigation systems.
Singh pledged $86 million toward relief efforts and promised $2,151 each to families of the 110 people that have died in the state.
Water levels receding
Although water levels were receding in many parts of the country where floods had swamped scores of villages, more than 35,000 people fled their homes overnight in southeastern Andhra Pradesh as the Bhima river threatened to burst its banks.
“Heavy inflows in the Bhima river are threatening downstream reservoirs necessitating evacuations in low-lying areas of Krishna and Guntur districts,” said Navin Mittal, top bureaucrat in the flood-affected district of Krishna.
Air force helicopters dropping food packets and winching up people marooned on rooftops and trees, while navy divers rescued villagers and searched for more bodies.
Officials said that 5,000 tribal people remained stranded without food and water for the fifth day on a hilltop near the town of Devipatnam, 210 miles southeast of Hyderabad.
“Children and women with high fever are living under bushes on hilltops without food,” said Sattiraju, a survivor at a relief camp in Devipatnam.
Amid reports hundreds were suffering from diarrhea and viral fever, officials began distributing malaria and hepatitis drugs.
They were also concerned over the health risk from thousands of bodies of animals drowned by the floods.
A Reuters photographer in the flood-hit city of Surat in Gujarat — famous for its diamond-processing and textile industries — saw several human bodies floating in filthy brown flood waters on Friday.
As water levels fell in Surat, after submerging around 80 percent of the city of 3 million, desperate residents battled to get medical assistance in hospitals after days of being cooped up in their homes.
“My house is on the second floor, and I have not been able to get home for the past five days,” said I.K. Patel, a businessman in Surat.