Rain-triggered floods and mudslides in India‘s northeast have killed over a dozen people and displaced more than a million from their homes, with officials warning the situation could worsen in the coming days.
Heavy monsoon rains in Assam state killed at least 10 people in the past 72 hours, state authorities said on Saturday, while six people were reportedly killed in Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China’s Tibet region.
“Ten people have died in separate incidents of drowning in the past three days and more than one million people [have been] affected, with the flood situation turning grave,” a flood bulletin issued by the Assam government said.
The Brahmaputra River, which flows from the Himalayas into India and then through Bangladesh, has burst its banks, swamping more than 1,800 villages in the state, which is on maximum alert due to heavy rains.
Torrential rains have affected at least 25 of Assam’s 33 districts and the federal water resources body said water levels in the Brahmaputra were expected to rise, with more rains forecast over the next three days.
“The flood situation remains extremely critical,” Assam’s Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta told Reuters news agency.
Elsewhere in Assam, the Kaziranga National Park – home to the endangered one-horn rhinoceros – has been flooded. The park is located 185km from the state capital, Dispur.
“The rhinos and other animals are taking shelter in artificially created higher ground or have crossed the highway to higher areas,” said Jukti Borak, a park official.
Authorities prohibited vehicles from speeding on the highway that runs along the park. Apart from the estimated 2,500 rhinos, Kaziranga is home to a variety of wild animals that cross the highway in search of higher ground during floods.
Other states also on alert
In Arunachal Pradesh, a 36-year-old woman was swept away and three other people were killed when their car skidded and fell into a gorge, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Two schoolchildren were killed and several others injured earlier in the week near the town of Tawang when a wall of their boarding school collapsed as they were sleeping.
“My appeal to people is to be on alert and those living in lowlands may move to safer higher grounds,” said the state’s Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
“We have put the entire disaster management agencies besides the police and the paramilitary on alert and have issued an advisory to the people not to travel unless required in unavoidable situations,” Bamang Felix, Arunachal Pradesh’s home minister, said by phone from the state’s capital, Itanagar.
Floods and mudslides have also hit some other northeast states, including Meghalaya, Sikkim and Mizoram. In Mizoram, floods have submerged about 400 homes in the town of Tlabung, police said.
Meanwhile, India’s federal government met on Saturday to review flood situation across the country. It said emergency teams had rescued 750 people in Assam and nearby state of Bihar, where the Kosi River had risen above the danger mark.