VARANASI, INDIA - About 3,000 people were evacuated in India's remote northeast after a lake created by an earlier landslide threatened to collapse and flood their villages, even as flood water levels stabilized in the worst-hit areas of the north, officials said Friday.
Rakesh Ranjan, a National Disaster Response Force official, said the villagers were rescued this week in the mountainous Mangan district of Sikkim state.
Elsewhere, misery eased somewhat, with rains ebbing over the past three days in Uttar Pradesh state, where 200,000 people had moved to relief centers after their homes were submerged, said Deepak Singhal, a state official.
Air force helicopters dropped food packets to thousands of people in Allahabad district who preferred to stay on the top floors of their flooded homes and wait for the water to recede rather than move into state-run relief camps, officials said.
Drowning, electrocution or injuries from collapsed houses have killed at least 175 people, mainly in West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states, during the current monsoon season, which runs from June through September.
The flooding has kept away thousands of pilgrims who usually line up at the ghats, or steps, leading to the Ganges River in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh for holy dips. The ghats have been submerged by the flood waters.
Usha Devi, her husband and three daughters abandoned their flooded home near the river in Varanasi more than a week ago. "We are living in a relief camp and are being fed by the state government," she said.
Singhal said a sudden discharge of water from overflowing dams in neighboring Uttrakhand state and Nepal worsened the floods in Uttar Pradesh. "More than 800 villages in nine districts have been flooded by water flowing from Nepal," he said.
In Bhagalpur, a district in eastern Bihar state, about 500 angry flood victims held up train for two hours Thursday by sitting on the tracks to protest shortages of food, drinking water and other essentials in relief camps, police said.
In Saran, another flood-hit district in the state, about 1,000 people protested outside the home of the district administrator on Thursday accusing state officials of apathy toward flood victims and inadequate relief supplies.