Monsoon fury kills 81, Rajnath says Assam situation very serious

  • Agencies, Guwahati
  • Updated: Jul 30, 2016 22:34 IST
A rescued infant rhino calf is transported to safety after being found by wildlife officials and volunteers in flood waters in the Sildubi area of the Bagori forest range of Kaziranga National Park in Assam. (AFP Photo)

Authorities were trying on Saturday to rescue people stranded in flooded areas after a week of heavy rain and lighting killed at least 81 people and uprooted thousands of others from their homes in Assam, Bihar and Odisha.

Twenty-six deaths were reported in Assam, where incessant downpours have damaged roads and snapped telephone cables in several districts, a government statement said.

Home minister Rajnath Singh flew over the worst-hit Assam areas on Saturday and said the floods were “very serious.” Singh said at least 28 districts of the state have been affected by floods.

The Home Minister said he had asked the state government to “adequately utilise the money in the National Disaster Relief Fund.”

At least 29 people were killed after being struck by lightning in different parts of Odisha on Saturday, police said. While eight deaths were reported from Bhadrak district, there were seven casualties in Balasore district, five in Khurda, three in Mayurbhanj, three in Jajpur and one each in Kendrapara, Keonjhar and Nayagarh, the police said.

Twenty-six deaths also have been reported in Bihar due to drowning and home collapses in 10 districts bordering Nepal.

The Bihar government was running more than 350 relief camps providing food and other necessities to the flood victims. The central government-run National Disaster Response Force was helping with relief efforts.

Vast tracts of Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, home to the rare one-horned rhino, and another wildlife reserve were under water, the state government said in a statement. Forest officials found the remains of six rhinos drowned by floodwaters in Kaziranga, the statement said. Another rhino was killed in another national reserve in the state.

The Brahmaputra river and its tributaries were overflowing their banks in 18 of Assam’s districts, washing away roads and highways and toppling power pylons. Floodwaters entered homes in at least 14 districts, leading to house collapses.

Flooding is an annual problem during the monsoon season in the region, but the impact has been worsened by crumbling civic infrastructure, clogged drains and uncontrolled urban expansion.

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