Indian Police Kill Man in Flood Aid Riot

The Associated Press
Sunday, August 12, 2007; 10:13 PM

NEW DELHI -- Police killed a man and injured four Sunday as victims of recent monsoon flooding rioted in northern India over the lack of government aid that was reaching them.

Devastating floods have laid waste to much of northern India and Bangladesh in recent weeks, killing more than 2,000 people and displacing millions. At least 15 people died from flooding Sunday in Bangladesh, the government said. No new deaths were reported in India.

The government has been criticized for poor planning for the annual monsoon.

Hundreds of people ransacked a government relief office in the town of Sonebarsa in the Indian state of Bihar, protesting the dearth of aid, said local police chief Kunwar Singh. Police used batons to disperse the crowd, leading to the death and injuries, he said.

The Bihar government, meanwhile, said it was reducing relief efforts and ending airdrops of supplies as land routes were re-established to villagers cut off by the waters.

"The government sees that the situation has eased considerably, so we have decided to stop air-dropping relief from (Monday)," said Manoj Shrivastav, the disaster management secretary in Bihar, the Indian state hit hardest by the floods.

But there were reports that some villages had yet to receive any government aid or had just started receiving it. Thousands of people also were being treated across India and Bangladesh for waterborne diseases that often strike after such floods.

Pope Benedict XVI called for a "generous" international response to aid the victims.

"I urge the church community to pray for the victims and support all initiatives of solidarity to lessen the suffering of so many people," he said during his traditional Sunday blessing.

Monsoon season rains usually hit South Asia from June to September. They are vital to farmers whose crops feed hundreds of millions of people, but also deadly. At least 2,135 people have died this year, double the number killed in 2006. About 600 people have died in the past two weeks.

© 2007 The Associated Press