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Tens of thousands flee India flooding; 39 dead

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October 26, 2013 05:06 PM EST | AP

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NEW DELHI (AP) — Days of torrential rains have unleashed floods in southeast India that have killed dozens of people and forced the evacuation of more than 70,000 others from hundreds of low-lying villages.

As of Saturday, 39 people had died in flood-related incidents in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states since the rains began Monday, according to officials quoted by the Press Trust of India. Many drowned when swept away by surging waters or were killed when weakened walls collapsed onto them.

Hundreds of villages were inundated and crops were being ruined in the so-called Rice Bowl of India. Railway services have been suspended along routes where tracks were submerged or damaged.

Residents of India's high-tech hub of Hyderabad were wading through knee-deep water surging through the streets.

The local Disaster Management Department said evacuated residents were sheltering in 178 camps, while relief workers in boats and helicopters were working to help or rescue hundreds of thousands stranded by floods that have swamped both coastal and inland regions along rivers.

Both Andhra Pradesh and Orissa were hit two weeks ago by a powerful cyclone that prompted authorities to evacuate nearly a million people. Cyclone Phailin destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, many of them simple huts made of mud, wood and thatch, while causing hundreds of millions of dollars in crop damage.

India's Meteorological Department on Saturday forecast the rains to continue for at least another day.