Positive Environment News

Fresh Flooding Leaves Millions Homeless in S. Asia

Date: 11-Sep-07
Country: INDIA
Author: Biswajyoti Das

The flooding has affected about seven million people and
killed 12 people since Friday and has washed away thousands of
homes, bridges, electricity poles and telecommunications towers
-- disrupting power and phone networks in many areas.

"This is the worst flood we have ever experienced. The
damage caused is unbelievable," said Bhumidhar Burman, Assam's
relief and rehabilitation minister.

"Right now we are concentrating on rescue operations and
the army has been called to help us ... people will find no
respite until the rains stop."

Since the annual monsoon rains began in June, about 50
people have been killed in Assam and more than 12 million
people affected, including in the latest wave of flooding.

The second spell of flooding in less than a month has also
spread across parts of Bangladesh, killing seven people,
forcing half a million from their homes and leaving thousands
stranded.

The worst affected were farmers who had replanted crops
lost in earlier flooding.

In Assam's main city, Guwahati, several residential areas
are under waist-deep waters, forcing many residents to move
into hotels or into relatives' and friends' houses.

Landslides in parts of the northeast region blocked
highways and stranded thousands of trucks carrying essential
goods, such as food supplies.

As water levels continue to rise, villagers have moved to
higher ground using boats or rafts made from bamboo and banana
trees, leaving behind their belongings and livestock.

"This flood has come at a time when the people had just
returned home and were rebuilding their lives after the
devastation caused by the previous floods," said Utpal Dutta, a
local leader in the worst-hit Lakhimpur district of Assam.

The flooding has also affected the neighbouring Himalayan
kingdom of Bhutan where several fast-flowing mountain streams
are changing their course, flooding human settlements.

The regional weather office in Assam predicted more rain
over coming days, and authorities were air-dropping food and
medicines in remote areas.

Since July, more than 2,000 people in eastern India and
neighbouring Bangladesh have been killed by snake bites,
drowning, diarrhoea and from houses collapsing after swollen
rivers burst their banks as a result of incessant monsoon
rains.

Reuters
© Thomson Reuters 2007 All rights reserved

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