Army called out as floods worsen in India

July 30, 2007 - 0:0

GUWAHATI, India (AFP) -- The army was called out for rescue operations Sunday as more than a million people were marooned in northeast India, which has been hit by raging floods, officials said.

""The situation worsened overnight, drowning two more people in western Assam and displacing another 250,000,"" Assam's Relief Minister Bhumidhar Barman said in the state's largest city Guwahati, adding it brought the total now stranded by the flooding to more than a million. The latest deaths took to 15 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 major Brahmaputra River. Assam relief minister Barman said troops used boats Sunday to begin rescuing people perched atop their homes in the worst-affected regions in western and eastern Assam, which borders flood-hit Bangladesh. The air force was also on stand-by, defense ministry officials said in New Delhi. ""We have some 200,000 people sheltering in makeshift camps on raised embankments, government schools and offices,"" said Diwakar Mishra, administrator of the flooded Assamese district of Dhemaji. ""The authorities are providing food and other supplies, including medicines, to the affected people,"" he said as the regional meteorological centre warned of more rains during the next 24 hours across the tea- and oil-rich Assam. Assam water resources minister Bharat Narah said engineers were working on a war-footing to strengthen dykes and embankments. Another two million people have been affected by floods in eastern Bihar state where the overnight death toll from drowning and house collapses rose to 25, the Press Trust of India reported. Officials in Bihar capital Patna said most rivers were in spate following non-stop rains and added that more than two million people in 10 districts were stranded in their homes and farms following rising water levels. ""The government has cancelled leave of all its workers in the flood-hit districts and deployed them in relief work,"" deputy chief minister Sushil Modi told reporters in Patna. The overnight deaths took the rain- and flood-related national toll to around 800 since the onset of monsoon in India in June from a tally compiled from local officials and media reports