Assam floods 'like a scene from Titanic'

The flood situation in Assam worsened on Tuesday, affecting 5.5 million people across 32 districts and claiming seven more lives.

A large part of National Highway-37 in Morigaon district has become shelter for those forced to leave their homes after the flood waters submerged them.

Officials have said that Brahmaputra and Barak rivers, along with their tributaries, are in spate. But people in the state who are usually stoic about the flooding that occurs every monsoon season, pointed out that this year the situation is dramatically worse.

"It is like a scene from Titanic," a man told local media of the rising waters that have flooded all but two of the state's 35 districts.

In some places, entire villages are under water, while across the state, 114,000 hectares of crops have been submerged and 5,000 livestock have been washed away.

For those that remain, fodder is running out.

Since April, 82 people have died in the rain and landslides, including two police officers who were swept away on Monday as they attempted a rescue.

Unprecedented rainfall and flooding have left behind a trail of destruction in Assam and other states like Meghalaya, as well as parts of neighbouring Bangladesh - submerging villages and towns, destroying crops and wrecking homes.

The authorities in Assam said more than 4.7 million people were displaced over the last week.

The government opened 1,425 relief camps but the authorities said their job has been complicated by the sheer intensity of the disaster. Even the rescue camps are in a dismal state.

"There is no drinking water in the camp. My son has fever but I can't take him to the doctor," said Udiana resident Husna Begum.

When water reached her home on June 15, the 28-year-old swam through the torrent in search of help. She is now sheltering in a rickety plastic tent with her two children.

"I've never seen anything like this. I've never seen such huge floods in my life," she said.

Floods routinely wreak havoc on the lives and livelihoods of millions living near the fertile riverbanks of the Brahmaputra, often called the lifeline of Assam. But experts said factors like climate change, unchecked construction activities and rapid industrialisation have increased the frequency of extreme weather events.

This is the second time this year that Assam is grappling with such fierce floods - at least 39 people were killed last month.

The state has already recorded rainfall of 109 per cent above average levels this month, according to the weather department. And the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark at many places.

The Assam state disaster management authority said it hoped to send trains carrying relief materials, including diesel, petrol and medicine, to the affected areas soon.

Assam's Chief Minister Himanta Biswas Sarma told the Deccan Herald newspaper that the rain was unprecedented and that he was in touch with the Central Home Minister Amit Shah about help to deal with the disaster.

Indo-Asian News Service

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