13 killed in floods, landslides in N-E | india | Hindustan Times
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13 killed in floods, landslides in N-E

india Updated: Jul 28, 2007 11:08 IST

IANS
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At least 13 people were killed and more than 750,000 were displaced in flash floods and mudslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in Assam and Meghalaya, officials said on Saturday.

A government spokesman said nine people were crushed to death and one wounded late on Friday when big boulders from a cliff fell on a human settlement at Nakam Bazar near Tura, the headquarters of the West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya, bordering Bangladesh.

"Heavy rains led to the landslide. We have managed to recover just one body so far as the area is located in a difficult terrain," Samphat Kumar, district magistrate of West Garo Hills in Meghalaya, told IANS by telephone.

In Assam, four people were drowned overnight in separate incidents in Dhubri and Sonitpur districts. "Three people were drowned while trying to escape the floods in Dhubri district and another man was swept away in Sonitpur district.

Their bodies have since been recovered, an Assam government official said.

The flood situation in Assam worsened on Saturday with all major rivers and their tributaries in full spate.

"The situation is indeed very critical with thousands of people rendered homeless overnight with new areas inundated," Bhumidhar Barman, Assam revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister, told IANS.

A government statement said about nearly 750,000 people were hit by the floods in 12 of Assam's 27 districts since the past one week.

"A maximum alert has been sounded across the state with the army and the paramilitary troopers asked to be on standby for any eventualities," the minister said.

The worst hit by floods is the eastern Dhemaji district where authorities evacuated nearly 50,000 since Friday.

"We have about 175,000 people from 350 villages taking shelter in makeshift arrangements on raised embankments, government schools and offices," Dhemaji district magistrate Diwakar Mishra said.

Authorities in Dhemaji district alone have set up more than 1,000 makeshift shelters for the displaced villagers.

"We have been providing food and other supplies, including medicines, to the flood affected people," Mishra said.

According to a Central Water Commission bulletin, the main Brahmaputra river was flowing above the danger level in at least 15 places in Assam.

"In several places, the Brahmaputra has been flowing at least a metre above the danger level and still maintaining a rising trend," a government flood bulletin said.

The Regional Meteorological Centre here on Friday warned of more rains and thundershowers in the next 24 hours.

"We are taking all preventive measures and strengthening dykes and embankments form getting breached," Assam Water Resources Minister Bharat Narah told IANS.

The 2,906 km-long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's largest rivers that traverse its first stretch of 1,625 km in China's Tibet region, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km through neighbouring Bangladesh before converging into the Bay of Bengal.

Every year the floods leave a trail of destruction, washing away villages, submerging paddy fields, drowning livestock, besides causing loss of human life and property, in the remote state of 26 million.

The monsoon was scattered in Assam last year thereby sparing millions of people from the ravaging floods. In 2004, at least 200 people died and more than 12 million were displaced in the floods.