Assam floods: Dozens killed, lakhs homeless as Northeast suffers worst deluge in decades

Assam’s disaster management agency said 32 of the state’s 35 districts were underwater as the swollen Brahmaputra River broke its banks, displacing more than 30 lakh people

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Monday, June 20, 2022, 02:28 PM IST
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Across lower Assam, flood waters are gushing in new areas and inundating villages and hundreds of villagers are under the grip of massive floods | Twitter/@IamSaurav_1

The death toll from the flooding in the Northeast, the worst in decades, rose to 71 on Sunday, with the deluge claiming nine more lives, including three children.

While six people died due to floods, three others were killed in landslides. All the three landslide-related deaths were reported from Assam's Cachar district.

At least eight people have also gone missing. The number of flood-hit people in the state went up to over 42 lakh on Sunday evening. Three deaths were reported from Cachar district, Barpeta reported two deaths, followed by one death each from Bajali, Kamrup, Karimganj and Udalguri districts.

"Entire Assam is affected due to floods. All our teams are deployed - around 14 teams officially, but we have more than those teams which are working. Rescue ops are still going on. In terms of manpower, more than 400 people are deployed. We've moved additional teams from HQ, at different places in Assam," HPS Kandari, Commander 1st Bn, NDRF told ANI.

Assam’s disaster management agency said 32 of the state’s 35 districts were underwater as the swollen Brahmaputra River broke its banks, displacing more than 30 lakh people. The Indian army was called in for rescue efforts and the air force remained on standby.

The Brahmaputra flows from China’s Tibet through India and into Bangladesh on a nearly 800 kilometer journey through Assam.

On Sunday, four people went missing when a boat carrying nine capsized in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh district, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Gauhati, the state capital. Police said that search operations were ongoing but they were hampered by strong currents.

No respite in sight

Forecasters are warning that the flooding is expected to get worse over the next few days.

Seasonal monsoon rains represent a lifeline for farmers across South Asia, but typically cause deaths and destruction to property every year. Bangladesh and India have both experienced increasingly extreme weather in recent years.

Environmentalists - while not ascribing single weather events to climate change - do warn it could lead to more disasters, especially in countries that are low-lying and densely populated.

On Saturday, Assam’s Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma toured flood-hit areas and described the situation as grim.

“We are now focusing on relief and rescue operations,” Sarma said, adding that more than 20,000 people have been evacuated by the army and other rescue agencies.

Army, NDRF deployed

Army personnel, Paramilitary forces, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Emergency and Fire Services of the state police, civil administration and trained volunteers have been pressed into service for the rescue and relief operations.

A total of 744 relief camps have been set up by the respective district administrations where over 1.86 lakh people are taking shelter. The flood-affected villagers have shifted to either relief camps set up by the district administration or are staying on the highways.

"With SDRF, NDRF, now Army has been helping us in rescue operations and we are also handling relief operations despite our offices still submerged and even our staff houses are under flood waters. It is a challenging situation," said Parikshit Phukan, Kamalpur's Circle Officer, to NDTV.

Across lower Assam, flood waters are gushing in new areas and inundating villages and hundreds of villagers are under the grip of massive floods. In many places, even boats cannot move in and tractors are the only means to reach out to the victims for the authorities and rescuers.

National Highway 15, a key road link that links central Assam on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra and serves as a vital link to western Arunachal, is inundated. As traffic has been stopped, people are dangerously crossing the flooded highway on foot.

(with inputs from agencies)

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