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Floods displace 40,000 people

Flash floods triggered by breaches in embankments of Assamese rivers have displaced about 40,000 people.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Guwahati
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2007 01:08 PM IST

Flash floods triggered by breaches in embankments of Assamese rivers have displaced about 40,000 people, and military helicopters are dropping food and other essentials, officials said on Friday.

A government spokesman said that nearly 120 villages in the eastern district of Dhemaji, about 500 km from Guwahati, were inundated after breaches in two embankments on river Kumotia on Thursday.

"There would have been heavy casualties had our disaster management teams not reacted fast. We managed to evacuate about 30,000 people in seven to eight hours which in itself was a Herculean task," Dhemaji district magistrate DN Mishra told IANS over telephone.

Hundreds were sheltered in schools and colleges with the floodwaters sweeping across the district.

"IAF (Indian Air Force) helicopters were pressed into service for rescuing people. But due to lack of landing spaces they couldn't help much. We later used the helicopters for dropping food and other supplies," Mishra said.

Road and rail links between Dhemaji and the rest of Assam remained cut off for the second straight day on Friday with floodwaters breaching several stretches of a national highway and rail bridges in the area.

"The water level is receding but it would take some time to restore communication links to the district," the official said.

In the first wave of floods last month, about 200,000 people were displaced in five districts of Assam.

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 state of 26 million.

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

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