14 killed in Arunachal mudslides, 120 Assam villages inundated (Lead)

June 14th, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Itanagar, June 14 (IANS) At least 14 people were killed and 30 injured Saturday in mudslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh while flash floods inundated 120 villages in Assam, officials said. A government spokesman said the casualties were reported from five different locations in and around Arunachal capital Itanagar.

“So far we have recovered 14 dead bodies from three different locations, including six from the heart of capital Itanagar. Most of the victims died after hillocks caved in on their houses,” Bidul Payeng, district magistrate of Pamumpare of which Itanagar is a part, told IANS.

At least 30 people were injured in the landslides. “The death toll could mount as the condition of at least 10 of the injured was stated to be critical,” the official said.

Payeng said there were reports of at least two vehicles falling down a deep gorge on the outskirts of Itanagar.

“We are unable to carry out rescue operations due to heavy rains,” said Payeng. “We don’t know how many people were there in the vehicles.”

Rescue workers were looking for possible survivors trapped under the debris of collapsed houses.

“Up to 30 houses, some of the concrete structures and some temporary shelters made of bamboo and thatch have collapsed in the landslides,” the official said.

Road links between capital Itanagar and the rest of the country remained snapped due to landslides in about two different locations, the official said.

In adjoining Assam, flash floods caused by monsoon rains Saturday inundated about 120 villages in the eastern Lakhimpur district, about 490 km from the state’s main city of Guwahati.

“There were breaches in three major embankments following heavy rains submerging about 120 villages,” S.A. Karim, police chief of Lakhimpur district, told IANS by telephone.

A flood control official said an estimated 30,000 people were displaced in the floods with most of them now taking shelter in raised platforms and roads.

“Road links between Lakhimpur and the rest of the state were snapped after floodwaters washed away a culvert on the national highway,” said Karim. Authorities have asked the army to be on standby to meet any eventualities.

The regional meteorological centre here Saturday warned of more rains and thundershowers in the next 24 hours.

“We are taking all preventive measures and strengthening dikes and embankments from getting breached,” said Assam Water Resources Minister Bharat Narah.

The 2,906 km-long Brahmaputra is one of Asia’s longest rivers that traverses its first stretch of 1,625 km in China’s Tibet region, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km through neighbouring Bangladesh before converging with the Padma and flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

Every year floods leave a trail of destruction, washing away villages, submerging paddy fields, drowning livestock, besides causing loss of human life and property, in the northeast.

The monsoon was scattered in Assam last year thereby sparing millions of people from the ravaging floods. In 2004, at least 200 people died and over 12 million were displaced in the floods.

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