Thousands displaced in Assam flash floods

August 15th, 2011 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Aug 15 (IANS) At least seven people were swept away and thousands displaced by flash floods in Assam Monday, officials said, adding that army soldiers and Indian Air Force helicopters were being deployed to rescue trapped villagers, officials said.

A government spokesperson said heavy rains triggered massive flooding in the eastern Dhemaji district, about 500 km from Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

“According to preliminary reports, about 40 villages have been hit by floods with an estimated 25,000 people displaced. There are reports of at least seven people swept away by sudden burst of flooding,” Dhemaji District Magistrate M.S. Manivannan told journalists.

Television images beamed over local satellite channels showed a family of four - father, mother, and two sons - atop a tree trying to escape the surging floodwaters in village Tokobari of Dhemaji district and the tree collapsing and being washed away in front of the camera.

The four people were swept away by the swirling waters and locals managed to rescue the father and mother, but the two teenaged sons disappeared, literally swallowed by the raging flood waters.

Officials said a big stretch of a railway track and the National Highway was swept away by the floodwaters, snapping road and rail links between Dhemaji and the rest of Assam.

A maximum alert was sounded with authorities pressing army and paramilitary troopers, besides engaging at least three helicopters to rescue trapped villagers atop trees and houses to escape the rampaging floods.

Heavy rains led the Gai river, a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra, to overflow leading to the massive flooding.

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