The flood situation in Assam has worsened with thousands of people marooned overnight due to breaches in embankments and swelling rivers, leaving an estimated five million displaced, officials said on Wednesday.
"The overall situation has turned critical with two more people drowned in separate incidents and a couple of major breaches of embankments in western Assam, inundating dozens of villages," Bhumidhar Barman, Assam revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister, told IANS.
The breach of a mud embankment late on Wednesday near Narayanguri in Baska district, about 90 kms from Assam's main city of Guwahati, has submerged close to 50 villages and displaced more than 100,000 people.
The total number of people now stranded by the flooding in Assam stands at more than five million. The latest deaths took to 27 the number of people killed in flood-related accidents in the past week in Assam and adjoining Meghalaya with heavy monsoon rains swelling the Brahmaputra River.
A Central Water Commission bulletin on Wednesday said all major rivers and their tributaries in Assam are flowing above the danger mark and are in full spate. The Regional Meteorological Centre in Guwahati warned of more rain and thundershowers.
Twenty-five of Assam's 27 districts are now hit by the floods affecting a total area of nearly 600,000 hectares, a government statement said.
"With heavy rains lashing across Assam, the flood situation might turn devastating with reports of fresh areas coming under flood waters," Barman said.
The state government has opened more than 3,500 temporary shelters, besides lodging flood-hit people in schools and office buildings.
"Rescue and relief workers have been working on a war footing. We have been trying our best to reach essentials, baby food, medicines, besides tarpaulin and polythene sheets, to the people," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.
Soldiers are already engaged in rescue operations in many parts of western and northern Assam, while Indian Air Force personnel have been kept on standby for airdropping food in the worst hit areas.
The 2,906 km long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's longest rivers that traverses 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 with the Ganga.
Every year, floods leave a trail of destruction, washing away villages, submerging paddy fields, drowning livestock, besides causing loss of human life and property, in the north-eastern state of 26 million.
The monsoon was scattered in Assam last year, thereby sparing millions of people from the ravage of floods. In 2004, at least 200 people died and more than 12 million were displaced by the floods.