Thousands hit by flash floods in Assam

July 27th, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  


Guwahati, July 27 (IANS) Flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains in Assam have displaced more than 225,000 people, besides destroying a large number mud homes, officials said Sunday. The eastern districts of Lakhimpur and Jorhat have been the worst hit, with an estimated 200 villages affected by the third wave of flooding that began Thursday, a government spokesman said.

“The situation is critical with many areas under water and severe erosion caused by the Brahmaputra is compounding the woes,” Lakhimpur police chief S.A. Karim told IANS.

A government statement said 175,000 people were displaced in Lakhimpur, about 400 km east of Assam’s main city Guwahati.

A Central Water Commission bulletin said the Brahmaputra and its tributaries were flowing above the danger mark in at least six places. Thousands have been displaced overnight with the Brahmaputra breaching a vital embankment along Majuli, South Asia’s largest river island.

A water resources department official said at least a quarter of the 421 sq km island in Jorhat district, 320 km east of Guwahati, was submerged after a breach in a mud embankment.

“Close to 50,000 people have been displaced after floodwaters entered 100 villages in Majuli. The villagers are sheltered in some highlands,” a government spokesman said.

“Thousands of people are taking shelter in makeshift camps and on embankments and other raised platforms. The authorities are providing them food and other essentials,” Karim said.

The first two waves of floods in Assam in May and June killed more than 30 people and displaced about 600,000, mostly in Lakhimpur district.

The floodwaters of the Brahmaputra have cut a treacherous swathe across Jorhat and Lakhimpur districts breaching more than a dozen vital embankments, besides sweeping away road bridges and stretches of highways.

The 2,906-km river - one of the longest in Asia - flows through Tibet, India and Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. Every year the monsoon causes the river to flood in Assam, a state of 26 million. In 2004, at least 200 people died and millions were displaced.

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