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India's record-breaking rains kill over 500
Updated: 2005-07-29 07:10

Residents tied ropes across flooded roads to help people wade through waist-deep water as workers repaired communication networks and towed away abandoned cars and buses.

But many stories ended in tragedy.

On Tuesday, Bombay's roads had become fierce rivers. On Thursday, much of the rainwater had ebbed _ people largely walked on dry roads, although the worst-affected areas in the suburbs still saw people walking in knee-deep water.

Pallavi Jain shuddered when she recalled how no one could help the motorists in a car behind hers.

"My car was flooded with water in less than five minutes. I managed to get out and just saw the car sink. I couldn't believe this had happened on a Bombay road," said Jain, 25, a computer programmer, on her way home after spending two nights in a friend's residence in central Bombay.

"There were two men in the car behind mine and by the time people tried to open their door it was too late. They couldn't do anything. The doors were jammed. It was awful."

After sleeping for two nights on couches and carpets in their offices, hundreds of Bombay residents clambered onto the newly running trains Thursday to get back to the suburbs.

"It will be such a relief to get home. But after hearing the horror stories of how people were swept away in the floods we were at least safe in the office," said Mangesh Nath, a trader with a Bombay brokerage firm.

State police officials said rescue teams were distributing food packets and water to people marooned in villages cut off by flood waters. They were also recovering bodies floating in murky swirling water.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolences to Indian officials. In Vatican City, the pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said Benedict was "deeply saddened" to learn about the deaths in Bombay _ home to some of India's oldest Catholic churches _ and other parts of Maharashtra.

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