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65 die as monsoon rains lash northern India

An Indian boy stands in floodwater after a heavy downpour in low-lying neighbourhood Lenin Nagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad on September 16, 2010. Heavy rains battered several districts with the southwest monsoon remaining vigorous over the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Dehradun, India (AFP) Sept 20, 2010
At least 65 people have died after heavy monsoon rains in northern India triggered landslides and flooding, government officials said Monday.

The mountainous northern state of Uttarakhand was worst affected, with 65 people dying over the last three days, regional civilian administrator Subhash Kumar told AFP.

Elsewhere, in the impoverished northern state of Bihar, the river Gandhak burst its banks and displaced thousands of people, destroying paddy crops and houses.

"Floods have left thousands of people, mostly the poorest of the poor, homeless in the last forty-eight hours," one local district magistrate told AFP over the telephone.

In New Delhi, where workers are rushing to finish delayed construction work ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games on October 3, a newspaper report claimed the city had experienced its wettest monsoon in over three decades.

Weather officials would not confirm the record, reported in the Times of India, but said the national capital had received a very high figure of 950 millimetres (38 inches) of rain during the monsoon which began in July.

The unusually wet weather has also fuelled a serious outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever which organisers fear could scare sports fans away during the Commonwealth Games.

The number of dengue cases has already topped last year's figure of 1,153 in the city, although the real number of infections is thought to be many times higher. At least four people have died.

This year's strong monsoon is a welcome change of fortune for many among India's hundreds of millions of farmers who endured the weakest monsoon rains in 37 years in 2009.

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