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Flood situation in Assam critical

More than three million people have been displaced in Assam over the past week as the Brahmaputra river inundated vast swathes of the region.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2007 14:03 IST

More than three million people have been displaced in Assam over the past week as the Brahmaputra river inundated vast swathes of the region, a situation the government described as "very critical".

"The situation is still very critical with the third wave of floods wreaking havoc in at least 20 of the state's 27 districts with an estimated three million people stranded since Wednesday," said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

The floods that began in July have so far hit more than 10 million people covering about 9,000 villages - the worst hit districts being Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi, Dhubri, Morigaon, Barpeta and Nalbari.

"This is one of the most prolonged floods and by far the worst ever in recent years and since July 55 people were killed in separate incidents," Gogoi told IANS.

A Central Water Commission bulletin Tuesday said the main Brahmaputra river and its tributaries were flowing above the danger level in at least 19 places and in full spate with heavy monsoon rains lashing the region.

"There are about 500 makeshift camps now where thousands of people are sheltered, while many more are staying in raised embankments and other such platforms under tarpaulin tents," Bhumidhar Barman, Assam revenue, relief and rehabilitation minister, said.

Army and paramilitary troopers were pressed into action over the weekend to rescue marooned villagers with the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries - swollen by monsoon rains - breaching their embankments late Sunday.

"The army is still out in several districts carrying out rescue and relief operations and we have kept on standby Indian Air Force helicopters to carry out relief and rescue mission as and when required," the chief minister said.

"A total of 81 embankments were breached since July with about a dozen in the past week itself."

The 2,906 km long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's largest rivers, traversing 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 floods in Assam leave a trail of destruction, washing away villages, submerging paddy fields, drowning livestock, besides causing loss of human life and property.

In 2004, more than 200 people were killed in floods in Assam.