CALCUTTA, India (AP) -- Authorities used boats to ferry food and drinking water to hundreds of thousands of villagers cut off by monsoon floods that have killed at least 29 people in the past week in eastern India, officials said Wednesday.
Local authorities also sought to use air force helicopters to drop supplies to more than 50,000 people stranded in nearly 200 villages in West Bengal state where the flooded Keleghai river cut off road links, said Kalyan Mitra, a district official. The affected villages in West Midnapore district are about 105 miles west of Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state.
About 200 soldiers were also using speedboats to evacuate villagers to higher ground in the district, Mitra told The Associated Press.
Flood waters left another 200,000 people marooned in nearly 300 villages in neighboring Orissa state, said Manmohan Samal, the state revenue minister.
In both states, boats were being used to carry essential supplies to villagers, the officials said.
Nineteen deaths were reported from mudslides and house collapses in Arunachal Pradesh state, eight in Assam state and two in West Bengal state in the past week.
However, water has started receding in the worst-hit Lakhimpur district in Assam state following a respite from rain Tuesday, allowing hundreds of villagers to return to their homes, said Bhumidar Barman, the state revenue minister.
More than 400,000 people have been affected by floods in two districts in northern Assam, Barman said.
Teams of doctors and paramedics left for 100 makeshift relief camps in the two districts to prevent the outbreak of malaria, dengue fever, cholera and other waterborne diseases, he said.
Assam is prone to flooding. Last year, millions of people were forced to evacuate their homes after floods.
Monsoon rains usually hit India from June to September.
The rains are crucial for farmers whose crops feed hundreds of millions of people, but also bring massive destruction across the country. Every year, thousands of people are killed by flooding, collapsing houses and other rain-related incidents.