India’s Assam flood crisis worsens, death toll at 24

Villagers row a makeshift raft through a flooded field to reach a safer place at the flood-affected Mayong village in Morigaon district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India on 29 June.
Villagers row a makeshift raft through a flooded field to reach a safer place at the flood-affected Mayong village in Morigaon district, in the northeastern state of Assam, India on 29 June.Reuters
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Even as Assam is fighting an all-out war against COVID-19, the deteriorating flood situation, triggered by heavy rains, claimed four more lives taking the death toll to 24 while affecting over 1.3 million people in 25 of the state’s 33 districts, officials said in Guwahati on Monday.

Officials of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said that in the current wave of floods since early last week, nine persons have so far died in Barpeta, Dhemaji, Udalguri, Goalpara and Dibrugarh districts taking the total death toll to 24 in the floods and 23 more people were killed in separate landslides since 22 May.

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According to the officials of various authorities, there have been incessant heavy monsoon showers across the northeast region including Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh causing most rivers including mighty Brahmaputra to flow above danger levels in many places and inundating fresh areas everyday.

An official of the ASDMA said that the flood-hit districts are—Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Udalguri, Chirang, Darrang, Nalbari, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Bongaigaon, South Salmara, Goalpara, Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro), Morigaon, Hojai, West Karbi Anglong and Tinsukia.

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Quoting reports of various districts, the officials said: “Over 13.17 lakh people in 2,404 villages affected by the floods and over 83,168 hectares of crop areas were badly affected due to the floods. Around 27,452 people took shelter in 273 relief camps.”

The National Disaster Response Force, Assam State Disaster Response Force personnel, along with local administration, are continuously working to rescue the affected people and rendering relief services, including distribution of relief material to the marooned villagers.

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Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has also directed Deputy Commissioners of all the affected districts to address the needs of the flood-hit people urgently while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday discussed the Assam flood situation with Sonowal over phone and assured all kinds of central government’s help to the state to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, the heavy monsoon rains affected normal life in most parts of the northeastern states.

The rain water has inundated vast low lying areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram. With India Meteorological Department predicting more rains in the next few days, Assam and other northeastern states might have to face tougher days with worsening flood situation along with COVID-19 surge.

The state government has clamped a 14-day total lockdown in Kamrup (Metro) district, in which Guwahati, the state’s main city and commercial hub falls, from Monday midnight. Besides, daily night curfew and complete lockdown on Saturday and Sunday in the entire state was also promulgated to prevent the community transmission of coronavirus.

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