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Flooding displaces tens of thousands and kills one as heavy monsoon rains batter Indian villages

GUWAHATI, INDIA (AP) – Tens of thousands of people have taken shelter in government-run relief camps as heavy monsoon rains batter villages in India’s northeast, and one person has died in the floodwaters this week, a government relief agency said yesterday.

Assam state is on red alert and bracing for more downpours this weekend by evacuating people in low-lying areas.

Nearly 14,000 people currently live in 83 relief camps run by the Assam state government in 20 out of the state’s 31 districts, said the state disaster management agency in a statement.

Nearly 500,000 people have been hit by the monsoon floods in the state.

“We are fully prepared to deal with the situation with our rescue agencies deployed at vulnerable and worst-affected locations,” said state government official GD Tripathi.

One of Asia’s largest rivers, the Brahmaputra, floods annually. It flows 1,280 kilometres across Assam state before running through Bangladesh, which shares a 260-kilometre border with Assam state.

Mudslides triggered by heavy rains have occurred in several parts of Assam and Sikkim states, the statement said.

In neighbouring Meghalaya state, a mudslide demolished a boundary wall of a large sports stadium, damaging several vehicles parked there, media reports said. In 2022, floods in India and Bangladesh left over a dozen dead and millions homeless.

Annual monsoon rains hit the region in June-September. The rains are crucial for rain-fed crops planted during the season but often cause extensive damage. The pattern of monsoons has been shifting since the 1950s, with longer dry spells interspersed with heavy rain, according to Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology climate scientist Roxy Mathew Koll in Pune.

Scientists said climate change is a factor behind the erratic rains that trigger unprecedented floods in Bangladesh and northeastern India, killing dozens and making lives miserable for millions of others.

Flood-affected people transport animals in Nalbari district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, India. PHOTO: AP