Millions displaced in Assam floods, Kaziranga submerged

Kaziranga (Assam), July 31:

Five people drowned yesterday in flood-ravaged Assam even as the surging waters of the Brahmaputra river entered the famed Kaziranga National Park killing at least a dozen animals, officials said today.

“The situation is still very serious with five more people drowned in separate incidents overnight and another 30,000 displaced,” Bhumidhar Barman, Assam revenue,

relief and rehabilitation minister, said.

The total number of people now stranded by flooding in Assam stands at 4.13 million. The latest deaths took to 25 the number of people killed in flood-related accidents in the past week in Assam and adjoining Meghalaya as heavy monsoon rains and Himalayan snow melt combined to swell the Brahmaputra river.

“Soldiers are continuing their rescue and relief operations, besides authorities providing food and medicines to the affected people,” the minister said.

The state government has opened more than 3,000 temporary shelters, besides lodging flood-hit people in schools and office buildings.

Floodwaters have entered the 430 sq km Kaziranga National Park in eastern Assam killing at least a dozen deer, besides forcing hundreds of animals to flee the sanctuary for safer areas.

“Almost the entire park has come under floodwater with nearly a dozen animals perishing, most of them hog deer,” park warden SN Buragohain said. Kaziranga, 220 km east of Assam’s principal city of Guwahati, is home to the world’s largest concentration of one-horned rhinoceros. There are an estimated 1,855 rhinos at Kaziranga out of a total world population of some 2,700 of this thick-skinned pachyderm. “Herds of elephants, deer, wild buffaloes and rhinos from the park are migrating to an adjoining hill for safety by crossing a highway with floodwaters inundating the sanctuary,” the warden said. “At least a dozen forest camps have been closed down with floodwaters engulfing the park,” he added.