Assam flood situation worsens, army called in


Guwahati : Indian soldiers have been called out to rescue marooned villagers in Assam after 15 people were killed in floods and landslides that have displaced over 1.1 million, officials said Sunday.

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"The flood situation has worsened overnight, drowning two more people in parts of western Assam and displacing about 250,000," Bhumidhar Barman, Assam's revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister, told IANS.

Earlier, nine people were killed in a landslide in the adjoining state of Meghalaya late Friday while four were drowned in Assam.

"The current wave of floods that began last week has hit about 1.1 million people in 13 of Assam's 27 districts and affected a crop area of an estimated 26,000 hectares," the minister said.

Indian soldiers Sunday began a massive rescue and relief operation in parts of western and northern Assam with the rain-swollen Brahmaputra river cutting a treacherous swath across the region.

"Soldiers are engaged in rescuing marooned villagers in boats and rafts," Barman said.

A Central Water Commission bulletin Sunday said all major rivers and their tributaries in Assam are flowing above the danger mark and in full spate. The worst hit by floods is the eastern district of Dhemaji where the authorities evacuated nearly 100,000 in the last two days.

"We have about 200,000 people taking shelter in makeshift arrangements on raised embankments, government schools and offices," said Diwakar Mishra, the Dhemaji district magistrate.

Authorities in Dhemaji alone have set up over 1,300 makeshift shelters for the displaced villagers.

"We have been providing food and other supplies, including medicines, to the affected people," Mishra said.

The Regional Meteorological Centre here Sunday warned of more rains and thundershowers in the coming days.

The 2,906-km long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's largest rivers. It originates in Tibet, and after a stretch of 1,625 km in China, it covers 918 km in India and 363 km through neighbouring Bangladesh before converging into the Bay of Bengal.

Every year floods leave a trail of destruction, washing away villages, submerging paddy fields and drowning livestock, besides causing loss of human life and property in the state of 26 million.

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