From: Ramola Talwar Badam, Associated Press
Published August 12, 2005 12:00 AM

Waterborne Diseases Kill 46 This Week in Flood-Hit Bombay

BOMBAY, India — Waterborne diseases killed at least 46 people in Bombay in the past four days following floods that crippled western India last month, officials said Thursday.


Press Trust of India news agency on Thursday night put the death toll at 66.


Hospitals across the city were treating patients with high fevers, body aches and vomiting -- classic symptoms of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal disease that can be contracted from water contaminated with sewage, said Johnny Joseph, Bombay's civic commissioner.


"We suspect that many deaths were due to leptospirosis," he said. Other civic officials said some of the deaths were caused by malaria, diarrhea and typhoid fever.


Some 200 people remained hospitalized in Bombay, most of them suffering from fevers and vomiting.


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Most of the deaths were in Bombay's northeastern suburbs where flood water entered low-lying shanties.


The floods, triggered by record monsoon rains which began July 26, killed more than 1,000 people in and around Bombay.


Authorities were on Thursday working to stop the spread of diseases -- distributing medicines and water purifying tablets -- and did not believe they were facing an epidemic, said the deputy civic commissioner, V. Patankar.


But Bombay residents said authorities were slow to respond.


"We kept asking them (officials) to clean up but no one listened," said Sabina Ahmed, who lives in a slum in northern Bombay. "Now look what's happening, people are dying again."


Ahmed said two neighbors died Wednesday. "If we were given medicines on time this would never have happened."


Foul-smelling water flowed from an overflowing drain outside her cramped plastic-roofed hut. Ahmed said her family of five can't afford to burn fuel to boil water so it is safe to drink.


More than a third of Bombay's 16 million people live in overcrowded slums, many of them built along railway tracks.


Source: Associated Press


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