India is now counting the cost of the cyclone which devastated Andhra Pradesh state in the south east part of the country just over a week ago.
India is now counting the cost of the cyclone which devastated Andhra Pradesh state in the south east part of the country just over a week ago. The death toll could be as high as 25,000, and more than two million people have been left homeless. Extensive flooding is hindering relief and repair work, and with human and animal bodies decomposing in ankle deep mud, doctors are afraid a cholera epidemic.
SYNOPSIS: One of the visitors to the disaster area was Indian Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram, who stopped off at Madras for talks with local leaders.
The Minister than left for an aerial tour of Pondicherry, the former French colony on the Coromandel coast. This is a big rice growing area, but extensive floods have ruined acres of crops, and left villages cut off.
What was once a fertile region has been completely devastated, and villagers have been left trying to dry out what food they can salvage. Millions of hectares are under water and what paddy husks that are saved are dried on roads.
The rice queue is becoming another sight. One it was plentiful, but now villagers have to line-up for their ration.
Nothing seems to have escaped the cyclone. Just as badly hit as the region's agriculture is its industry, with factory after factory completely destroyed. In the Guntur area the damage was particularly severe, with thousands left homeless as their houses were turned to rubble.
Transport and communications are also in chaos. The cyclone twisted railway signals and ripped up track, and this made relief work extremely difficult. Workers were out trying to repair the damage, but it was a slow process after the country's worst natural disaster for a century.
With so many corpses still unburied or burnt, the risk of disease is great. The big fear is that there will be a serious epidemic of cholera and gastro-enteritis. Some cases of gastro-enteritis have already been reported, and efforts are now being made to get as many people as possible inoculated. This is being done in relief camps. By last Friday it was reported that 125,000 had been inoculated.