BANGALORE: More than 130 people have died and hundreds are being evacuated due to heavy rains which have lashed Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka over the past three days, officials said.
Rains damaged crops and disrupted communications and transport links. Police said most of the victims were washed away in flooded rivers or died when their homes collapsed.
A depression in the Bay of Bengal led to the heavy rains in the region, weather officials said.
Over a 100 people have died in northern Karnataka, the worst-hit state of which the IT hub Bangalore is the capital. The other deaths were reported from neighboring Andhra Pradesh.
Bijapur and Bagalkote districts in Karnataka bore the brunt of the fury accounting for 25 and 13 deaths respectively as unabated rains continued to wreak havoc leaving a trail of death and destruction, a situation described as "unprecedented" by Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa after a crisis management meeting.
"Over 25,000 homes have been destroyed in Karnataka," the chief minister told reporters, adding that helicopters had been sent for relief and rescue work.
IAF helicopters and aircraft have evacuated many marooned people in Bellary District and Mantralaya in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh bordering Karnataka, where the famous Raghavendra swamy mutt is located, a defence statement said here.
Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh is now inundated with four feet of water even as the level is expected to rise much further, chief minister Rosaiah said.
Mantralayam in the district, home to the renowned Raghavendra Swamy mutt, was submerged with water and people reached atop their houses to save themselves. Mantralayam MLA B Balanagi Reddy was himself stuck on top of his house with a large number of people and was desperately seeking help, official sources said.
"This is perhaps the worst flood in the history of the state. Never in the past have such water levels have been recorded," Rosaiah pointed out.
Meanwhile, the flood level in river Krishna will surge further with the inflows into Srisailam reservoir expected to touch a staggering 12 lakh cusecs in the next 12 hours.
In 1998, the discharge in the river was over 9.87 lakh cusecs, which resulted in widespread damage in Guntur and Krishna districts.
Authorities were shifting hundreds of people from low-lying areas to school buildings and temples on higher ground, but the Air Force said rain and storms were hindering operations.
A senior revenue department official said the toll might go up further as there was no let-up in rains and some areas have become inaccessible and information is scarce from there.