India: monsoon floods shut gas plant

Heavy rains over the past two weeks have swollen rivers and flooded houses, forcing some 650,000 people from their homes in southern Andhra Pradesh state and the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. At least 145 people have died in the past week.

Several low-lying areas in Bombay, India's financial hub and Maharashtra's capital, remain flooded, and Indian television channels broadcast footage of people struggling through murky waters in villages and cities, including the diamond cutting center of Surat, while air force helicopters and naval boats tried to rescue those stranded.

Nearly 3.5 million people living in and around Surat were hit by the floods, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. More than 80 percent of the city was submerged by water from the overflowing Tapti river, the report quoted Police Commissioner Sudhir Sinha as saying.

The floods are now also threatening natural gas supplies, and the Business Standard newspaper said several energy and fertilizer companies scaled back production after the closure of gas and petrochemical plants in the city of Hazira in the western state of Gujarat, the AP reports.