Dozens killed in India floods | News | DW | 22.08.2016
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Dozens killed in India floods

At least 40 people have died and hundreds of thousands have been evacuated as floods hit vast swathes of central and eastern India. A politician has been mocked online after a photo of him being carried went viral.

Days of torrential rain in the central and northeastern states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have led to a massive evacuation operation.

Indian officials said on Monday that the monsoon rains have lead to the deaths of at least 17 people the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. A total of 23 people also died in the northeastern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh due to drowning, electrocution or injuries sustained from collapsed houses.

Evacuations underway

The torrential downpours have caused the Ganges River and its tributaries to rise drastically above the danger level during the past 48 hours. In the city of Allahabad, many people were forced to move to safer areas after water from the Ganges made its way through several residential areas. Around 12,000 people were evacuated from low-lying surrounding villages, a government statement said.

Some 600,000 people were also evacuated in Bihar. With more rain forecast in the coming days, the army and air force are on standby to deal with the disaster.

Floods occur in many parts of India during the monsoon season, which runs from June through September. At least 150 deaths have been reported during the monsoon season this year, with north-eastern Assam state the worst affected.

Politician mocked

Amid the floods, a senior Indian politician has been widely mocked on social media after photos showing policemen carry him through ankle-deep muddy water went viral. He was inspecting deadly floods in the country's center at the time.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state, was shown wearing crisp white trousers and white shoes as he was carried through the water in a field.

"Shame on #Shivrajsinghchouhan. So embarrassing #wetyourfeet my man," Twitter user Jennifer Fernandes wrote.

"#Shivraj training Indian athletes for 400M Relay 2020 Olympics," read another.

But while most of the comments were light-hearted, many also accused Chouhan of abusing his position, with comparisons being drawn to the treatment of British officials during colonial times.

Government officials were quoted as blaming overzealous minders for the photo, while another said Chouhan hurt his foot, and there was also concern about snakes in the water.

Chouhan himself posted several pictures of his visit to the floods on Twitter but bypassed the controversial one.

ksb/jil (AFP, AP, dpa)

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