Assam floods: death toll rises in Indian state as five people drown

Air force is flying supplies to the disaster zone as residents grapple with shortages of drinking water

Indian troops drop relief supplies from a plane in Silchar, a town in Assam state affected by floods. Photo: Indian Air Force
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At least four children and an adult drowned in different parts of Assam as the north-eastern Indian state continues to reel from the devastating effect of floods.

The drownings pushed the death toll to 127 since rain began to batter the state in April, causing water levels to rise, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority said on Sunday.

At least 17 people have been killed in landslides over the past three months.

More than 2.2 million people from 2,500 villages in 25 districts remain affected by floods.

As many as 116 relief distribution centres have been set up in the state, with more than 200,000 people seeking shelter at 564 relief camps.

“The flood situation in the state is improving as water is receding from the affected areas,” the Assam State Disaster Management Authority said in a bulletin.

The worst-hit district in the state is Barpeta, where about 700,000 people have been affected by flooding.

In Silchar town, in Cachar district, about 100,000 people have been left stranded over the past week. The town lies in Barak valley and was covered by up to 3.6 metres (12 feet) of water in some areas last week after the Barak river overflowed.

While the situation has begun to improve, electricity has yet to be restored in most parts of the town as power infrastructure remains inoperable due to the floods.

People are also struggling with shortages of drinking water, with many stranded residents reportedly boiling floodwater to make it potable.

Satanjib Das, a resident, told The National that they were unable to pump water due to there being no electricity, leading to empty storage tanks.

State Chief Minister Himanta Sarma said on Sunday that “unknown people” had intentionally breached the embankments near the Barak river. Authorities said they had launched an investigation.

“It was a man-made disaster in Silchar. If the embankment at Betukandi was not breached, this would not have happened,” Mr Sarma said after his visit.

“The probe will see if there is any official lapse. From next time, we will have to deploy policemen on the dyke,” he said.

Local TV showed Mr Sarma wading through the flooded streets of the town to assess the situation. The chief minister is speeding up rescue and relief work in parts of the town where aid has yet to be provided.

Drones have also been used to prepare a flood map of the town to identify the extent of damage, Keerthi Jalli, deputy commissioner of Cachar, said.

The Indian Air Force has sent seven types of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft to transport 77 tonnes of relief supplies while authorities have been running special trains carrying fuel and medical aid to other affected areas.

Earlier this month, the India Meteorological Department announced that Assam had received 100 per cent more rainfall this year.

Updated: June 27, 2022, 1:37 PM
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