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River washes away Indian village homes

A river changed its course, washing away village homes in the northeast, as the death toll in South Asia's raging monsoon floods reached 228, officials said on Saturday.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2003 15:22 IST
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A river changed its course, washing away village homes in the northeast, as the death toll in South Asia's raging monsoon floods reached 228, officials said on Saturday.

Landslides, lightning and floods have killed 54 people in Nepal, while in Bangladesh, some 104 have died since the seasonal rains hit in mid-June.

The weather office predicted more moderate to heavy rainfall in Assam, where a tributary of the Brahmaputra river - one of the largest in Asia - changed course on Friday, hitting Madarbari village.

Army soldiers with motor boats rushed to help its 40 or so families evacuate, an officer at the local police station said on condition of anonymity. It was not immediately known if there were any casualties.

More than 2.2 million people have been affected in Assam, with 20 of its 24 districts under water, said the state's Flood Control Minister Nurjamal Sarkar. Homes and roads have been submerged, cattle drowned and people driven from their villages to find safety on higher ground.

In all, some 3,000 villages in northeastern India are submerged. New Delhi has also been hit, with 12 centimetres (4.7 inches) of rain in just 24 hours, the weather service said Friday. The downpour turned streets into rivers, felled trees, short-circuited electrical connections and delayed trains. At least 70 deaths have been reported in India: four in New Delhi, 29 in the eastern state of West Bengal, 13 in Bihar, eight in Rajasthan, and 16 in Assam.

In Delmaji, the worst-hit area in Assam, more than 1 million people have either been forced from their homes or had them inundated after mud embankments gave way along the Brahmaputra. With roads and rail tracks washed away, they are cut off. Two-thirds of Assam's Kaziranga National Park - the world's only one-horned rhinoceros habitat - are under water.

In neighboring Bangladesh, monsoon floods have washed over a third of the country during the past two weeks, killing 104 people and swamping rice fields, damaging or washing away thousands of flimsy huts and drowning livestock. Flooded rivers have polluted drinking water wells, and many people can only reach food or medical care by boat.

The Natural Calamity Disaster Management Center said in Katmandu on Friday that landslides, lightning and floods have killed 54 people in Nepal.

Among them were three members of one family killed by a landslide in Jahushivpur village, 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Katmandu, but villagers were able to rescue a child from a crushed house.

First Published: Jul 12, 2003 15:22 IST

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