Tuesday 26 March 2019

Two million flee monsoon floods

Floods have forced two million people to flee their homes in the Indian state of Assam (AP)
Floods have forced two million people to flee their homes in the Indian state of Assam (AP)

The worst monsoon floods in a decade to hit a remote Indian state have killed more than 80 people and forced around two million to leave their homes.

Nearly half a million people are living in relief camps set up across Assam state, the rest are living in government buildings or in the open.

Assam officials say 81 people have been killed over the past four days. Most were swept away when the Brahmaputra River overflowed and flooded villages. Sixteen people were buried in a landslide triggered by the rains.

Air force helicopters were dropping food packets and drinking water to marooned people and soldiers used boats to rescue villagers from rooftops of flooded homes.

Teams of doctors have opened health clinics in the 770 relief camps that had been set up across Assam, one of India's main tea-growing states. The hilly tea growing areas have not been affected, but lower rice fields have been washed away.

In the worst-hit Dhemaji district, the Brahmaputra swept away entire villages.

Majuli island, one of the world's largest river islands, was awash as water levels in the Brahmaputra rose above the danger level.

Officials say the situation was expected to improve over the next few days as the rain was tapering off and water levels were beginning to recede.

Monsoon floods hit Assam, with a population of 26 million people, almost every year, with heavy rains swelling the Brahmaputra and its may tributaries that criss-cross the state.

Press Association

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