Flash floods in parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh due to release of water upstream from Nepal have left at least 31 people dead in the past four days, a state government official said on Monday.
The swirling waters of Sharda and Ghaghra rivers have inundated several parts of Lakhimpur-Kheri, Bahraich, Gonda and Faizabad districts, and threatened other districts downstream.
According to officials, the Gonda-Lucknow highway was submerged following which traffic remained suspended.
Both the rivers continued to flow well above the danger level in not only these four districts but also in Azamgarh, Balrampur, Basti and Ballia.
In Lakhimpur-Kheri, flash floods washed away a key pier of a 120-year-old rail-road bridge cutting off the Dudhwa National Park. It has also led to a 70-feet breach in an embankment leading to submerging of several villages in the neighbourhood. "The repair of the breach and reconstruction of the bridge pier is likely to be completed by this weekend," state relief commissioner SN Shukla told IANS.
"While such flash floods are a perennial problem, what has added to the plight of the victims was the timing. Perhaps never before have floods created such havoc in the month of October after the helpless village folk had already gone through the ordeal during the monsoon season," he said.
"Hundreds of boats have been deployed in relief work and more than 18,500 people have been evacuated to 72 relief camps set up in different areas."
The official was, however, confident that the worst was over and the excess water would flow away within the next two-three days.
"What should be our worry now is the onslaught of water-borne diseases like encephalitis and malaria, which have already taken a heavy toll on human lives in the area," he said.
Meanwhile, the Mayawati government has decided to give Rs. 1 lakh to the next of kin of each of those killed in the floods.