Monday, June 16, 2008

{News} 080616 Monsoon rains hit India early for first time in more than a century, killing 23

Monsoon rains hit India early for first time in more than a century, killing 23

The Star, June 16, 2008

NEW DELHI (AP) - India's annual monsoon rains have swept across the country about two weeks ahead of schedule, breaking a 108-year-old record and causing floods that have killed at least 23 people, officials said Monday.
Widespread rainfall cooled northern India, with the region's high temperature for Monday pegged at 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius) - 11 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) - below normal, Subhash Chander Bhan, the director of the India Meteorological Department, told The Associated Press.
Bhan said he did not think the early monsoon was linked to climate change, noting that rains had hit the Indian capital as early as June 16 in 1998.
The monsoon usually begins sweeping across the subcontinent in early June, but rarely reaches New Delhi and the rest of northern India before the beginning of July.
But with an unusual weather system pulling moisture off the Bay of Bengal and dumping it on India, it is the first time since record keeping began 108 years ago "that monsoon rains have covered almost the entire country two weeks'' before the start of July, Bhan said.
The annual monsoon rains feed the farms that provide a livelihood for more than 60 percent of India's 1.1 billion people.
But they can also be deadly with some of the first fatalities in this year's monsoon being reported in recent days in India's remote northeast. At least 23 people have been killed by a series of floods, landslides and building collapses caused by the front edge of the monsoon, officials in the states of Assam and Arunchal Pradesh said.
While reports from affected areas were still trickling in Monday, at least 50,000 people in one district in Assam were taken over the weekend from flooded areas to higher ground by rescuers using motorboats and row boats, said Bhumidhar Barman, the state's revenue minister.
Authorities said the army was on standby in case soldiers were needed to help rescue trapped villagers elsewhere in the state.-AP

Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/6/16/apworld/20080616154931&sec=apworld

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