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SOS Rhino : In the News : Floods displace 470,000

Floods displace 470,000


July 3, 2003

The number of people displaced by a new wave of flooding in India has risen to 470,000 as hundreds more villages were submerged.

Six people have died so far due to landslides and floods sparked by heavy monsoon rains since last week in the north-eastern states of Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya.

The main Brahmaputra river has breached its banks at several places in Assam, leaving more than 460,000 people homeless since a second wave of flooding began Friday, an official said yesterday.

Another 10,000 people were displaced in Tripura with floodwaters washing away up to 50 villages.

" At least 800 villages spread over 11 districts in the state have been hit by the floods," Assam Revenue Minister Mithias Tudu said.

About 400,000 people were displaced during the first wave of floods in early June in Assam, but the waters later receded.

" The high river current has breached scores of mud embankments, aggravating the flood situation," Assam Flood Control Minister Nurzamal Sarkar said.

Floodwaters have entered the 430-square-kilometre Kaziranga National Park in eastern Assam, drowning five animals - a rhino, a buffalo, two hog deer and a python.

" A vast area of the park is under water with animals fleeing the sanctuary to hills nearby," park warden NK Vasu said.
Fear of water-borne diseases spreading were compounded as floodwaters submerged wells in the affected regions.

" Water-borne diseases like gastroenteritis, dysentery, jaundice and typhoid have been reported from flood-affected areas although it has not assumed epidemic proportions yet," Assam Health Minister Bhumidhar Barman said.

" We have (sent) our medical teams with stocks of medicines in mobile vans and in boats to flooded areas - from where we have got reports of diseases breaking out."

" We are setting up medical camps in almost all flood-hit areas," the minister said, but added that villagers were seeking advice from local unlicensed doctors rather than visiting trained physicians.

Malaria and Japanese encephalitis claimed up 60 lives in Assam's flood-affected areas in June.

A bulletin issued by the Central Water Commission yesterday said 13 channels of the Brahmaputra river were flowing above the danger level.

" The Brahmaputra is still showing a rising trend although in some places it was either steadying or falling," the bulletin said.

Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.

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