VATICAN CITY, AUG. 24, 2006 ( Caritas-India appealed to the international confederation for $3 million to assist the thousands affected by weeks of heavy rain in the country.

Monsoon rains hit hard for the past two weeks in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Orissa, Caritas Internationalis reported today.

The rains this year have been especially heavy in many parts of the country and have seriously affected the most vulnerable rural communities, the aid organization said.

Heavy rains began in June, and have continued throughout August, killing several hundred people, destroying livestock and vast acreages of crops and forcing millions from their homes.

"Most of the people didn't have time to take their belongings since the water levels started rising rapidly," said Caritas-India.

Caritas-India has set up temporary shelters for victims and has begun to distribute food, drinking water and essential materials to evacuated families.

Measures have also been taken to avoid the spread of infections.

Caritas-India is also assessing the extent of the damage to draw up a plan for rehabilitation, which will focus primarily on the reconstruction of homes and the recovery of the means of livelihood of the affected communities.


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