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Surat, India's Diamond Capital, Swamped By Rains - Millions Homeless - AFP

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 12:35 PM
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Surat, India's Diamond Capital, Swamped By Rains - Millions Homeless - AFP
Troops Thursday stepped up rescue efforts in Surat as India's diamond-cutting city faced being totally swamped by flooding that has hit millions across west and south India. A fleet of helicopters plucking people from rooftops and dropping relief supplies filled the skyline as waters overflowing from the nearby Ukai dam surged into the city of 3.5 million people, witnesses said.

National broadcaster Doordarshan said 90 percent of the city in western Gujarat state -- that accounts for 70 percent of India's polished diamond exports and boasts top textile houses -- was already under water.

"We are losing count of sorties or tonnage of relief sent as we are throwing in every aircaft that we are getting," air force spokesman Wing Commander Tarun Singha said from the city of Bhavnagar, across the Gulf of Khambhat from coastal Surat, from where the rescue is being coordinated. "In fact, the entire armed forces is now in action out there," Singha told AFP as Gujarat authorities sought 20 billion rupees (444 million dollars) in emergency federal government handouts.

Gujarat Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel said 10 million people were "seriously affected" by floods in the rain-soaked state and more than 5,200 Surat residents have been saved from imminent death, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

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