- Kuwait Times Extra
GUWAHATI: Floods have forced more than one million people to flee their homes in northeastern India, where authorities have called a health alert, officials said yesterday. “So far 18 of 27 districts of Assam have been hit by floods with more than one million displaced and 11 people drowned in separate incidents in the past week,” the Disaster Management agency said in a statement. Rescue officials said about 2,000 villages had been hit by overflowing waters from the rain-swollen Brahmaputra River. Himanta Biswa Sarmah, the health minister of Assam state, told AFP that a “maximum health alert” has been sounded in the devastated zone. Other officials said the affected people had been evacuated to temporary shelters on higher embankments and to schools and colleges unaffected by the second round of floods since July in Assam, which borders Bangladesh. Nearly 130 people were killed and six million displaced by the floodwaters in Assam two months ago, which came during India’s June-September monsoon. “We have dispatched doctors and paramedics to ensure that there is no outbreak of disease,” Sarmah said in Guwahati, Assam’s largest city.
The Press Trust of India said almost the entire core area of 420 square kilometres (162 square miles) of Kaziranga National Park in Assam was also flooded. The wildlife park is home to the world’s single largest population of onehorned rhinos. A 2012 census in Kaziranga counted 2,290 of the rhinos, out of a global population of 3,300. The species declined to near extinction in the early 1900s and is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Kaziranga has fought a sustained battle against rhino poachers, who kill the animals for their horns, which fetch huge prices in some Asian countries where they are deemed to be an aphrodisiac.
Meanwhile, a stampede at a religious celebration killed at least nine people, eight of them women, in eastern India yesterday, a district official said. “Eight women and a man died during the stampede,” Rahul Purwa, deputy commissioner of Deoghar district, in Jharkhand state, told AFP. The victims were among thousands of Hindu devotees who had gathered to take part in celebrations to mark the anniversary of the birth of Saint Thakur Anukul Chand. The stampede broke out while hundreds of devotees were gathered in a congested hall for early morning prayers, said Purwa. “I was informed by local police officials that the incident was the result of rumours spread by some devotees.
The district administration is conducting a probe,” he added. The injured were being treated in nearby hospitals. Stampedes often break out at religious events in India where policing and crowd control are often inadequate. The last major stampede was in January 2011 in the southern state of Kerala when more than 100 people died as panic spread among worshippers crossing mountainous terrain in the dark to visit a shrine. On Sunday, three people were killed and over two dozen injured in Mathura near New Delhi where a large congregation had gathered on the occasion of the Radha Ashtami festival, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. — AFP
Read by 676