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Authorities sound health alert in Assam

Thousands returned home in Assam as floodwaters receded, even as a health alert was sounded to prevent the outbreak of any waterborne diseases.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Guwahati
UPDATED ON JUN 18, 2008 01:55 PM IST

Thousands of people were returning to their homes in Assam on Wednesday with floodwaters receding as authorities sounded a health alert to prevent the outbreak of any waterborne diseases.

"The flood situation has improved considerably with no overnight rain. People are heading back to their homes, but thousands of them are still in makeshift shelters as their homes are filled with mud and slush," said Assam's Revenue Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Bhumidhar Barman.

"We have set up more than 100 camps and are providing relief materials and medicines to the people," Barman said.

A Central Water Commission bulletin Wednesday said the main Brahmaputra river and its tributaries were still above the danger mark in some places although the trend was receding.

The floods that began over the weekend left eight dead and displaced more than 400,000 people in about 350 villages in the two districts of Lakhimpur and Sonitpur.

"Teams of doctors and paramedics are on full alert and visiting flood-hit areas, although there are no reports of any outbreak of waterborne diseases," Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

Road communications between Lakhimpur and the rest of Assam continued to be snapped with floodwaters overtopping highways and breaching culverts.

On Saturday, a series of mudslides in the adjoining Arunachal Pradesh state left 19 people dead and about 15 injured. The incidents took place in and around state capital Itanagar.

The 2,906 km river, one of the longest in Asia, traverses Tibet, India and Bangladesh before joining the Padma and emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Every year the monsoon causes the river to flood in Assam, a state of 26 million people. In 2004, at least 200 people died and millions were displaced.

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