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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Floods kill 41 in western India

Flash flooding triggered by torrential rains has killed 41 people in India’s western Gujarat state, as the annual monsoon season hits the country, a disaster management official said on Thursday.
Authorities have evacuated more than 10,000 residents mainly from coastal areas of Gujarat following heavy rains in the last 24 hours, the state government said in a statement.
The coastal district of Amreli was the worst affected, with 36 people killed in flood-related incidents, a duty officer in the state’s disaster control room said.

“There have been 41 deaths across the state with 36 in Amreli, three in Bhavnagar and two in Rajkot districts,” the official told AFP.
Thirteen of the deaths in Amreli occurred when two houses collapsed in the flooding, local police deputy superintendent Pinakin Parmar told AFP.
As the monsoon sweeps across the country, flood warnings have also been issued in northern Jammu and Kashmir state — hit by floods last year that claimed about 300 lives.
Floods have devastated hundreds of villages in the northeastern state of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh affecting at least 21,000 people and destroying large swaths of harvest crops all across the state.
According to Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ADMA), five districts Barpeta, Dhemaji, Morigoan, Lakhimpur and Chirang has been affected by the ongoing floods with more than 863 hectares of crop damaged in these districts.

“The flood situation is showing signs of improvement in the last 24-hours with water levels reducing in various areas. However, the river Bramahaputra is still flowing higher than the danger mark in various places. Unless there is substantial drop in the water level the districts are still at the risk over re-flooding,” said Nandita Hazarika of ADMA.
“The worst affected district is Lakhimpur, though no lives were lost. However, cattle have been affected in various places,” she added.

Indian Meteorological Department though has forecasted heavy rainfall in various parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh as the South-east monsoon is active in these areas. “We expect heavy rainfall in various parts of the district for at least next 48 hours,” said a spokesperson of IMD.
However, there is huge resentment among people where they blame the government of trying to showcase that the floods are a minor one. Locals claim that at least 600 villages have been inundated affecting 300,000 people, destroying 1600 hectares of land.
“The figures that are being circulated by ADMA are completely fabricated. Hundreds of villages have been washed away and thousands have been left homeless as the houses have been destroyed. While the government claims that none of the houses in the area are affected,” said Manisha Dutta Gupta who runs a non-profit organisation in the area.

“Three people have died as per government reports but we estimate that at least ten people have lost their lives with hundreds of cattle being washed away by the flood waters,” added Manisha.
There is also anger among locals against the India media for ignoring the plight of the people in those states. “While the entire national media focused on the rains in Mumbai none thought to highlight the inhuman conditions thousands of Indians are undergoing in these two-states. This alienates the people of northeast further,” said Subhra Behal, a journalist in Guwahati.
Locals claims that there has been little help from the state or central government as none of the ministers ever visited the area. “Northeast always gets a step-motherly treatment from the central government. Even the state government was not proactive this time around,” said Subimal Goswami, a health officer in the area.

Locals fear breakout of water borne diseases once the water recedes. More people died from the aftermath of floods than during the real crisis. “Little has been done over the years to improve sanitation over the years. We hear of many government programs but little reaches us,” said Tunai Mandal, a resident of Barpeta district over phone.
Source: AFP

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