Heavy monsoon rains kill at least 120 in India, over a million seek refuge in relief camps

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 02.08.2016 11:04
Flood affected villagers stand to collect flood relief at a partially submerged area in Morigaon district, east of Gauhati, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, July 31, 2016. (AP Photo)
Flood affected villagers stand to collect flood relief at a partially submerged area in Morigaon district, east of Gauhati, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, July 31, 2016. (AP Photo)

The death toll in flooding from heavy monsoon rains in India has climbed past 120, with about a million people taking shelter in government-run relief camps, officials said Tuesday.

Incessant downpours have damaged swaths of land, uprooted trees and snapped telephone cables in dozens of districts in the states of Bihar in the east, Assam in the remote northeast and Himachal Pradesh in the north. In eastern state of Bihar, where 38 people died and 2.8 million people were affected in a week of flooding, the Times of India online daily reported.

A total of 96 people have been killed in the flooding in the three states over the past week, according to state officials.

At least 52 people were killed in lightning strikes in Orissa state on the weekend, said Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra, managing director of the state's disaster management authority.

At least 17 rare one-horned rhinos have been killed due to the flooding of vast tracts of Assam's Kaziranga National Park, said Pramilla Rani Brahma, the state's forest and environment minister. "Most of the rhinos killed are calves, separated from their mothers during the massive flooding," Brahma said.

The park had 1.5-meter-high (5-foot-high) floodwaters in some places, forcing many of the park's animals, also including wild elephants, wild buffaloes and boars, to cross a highway to move to higher ground.

The heavy monsoon rains have come after two straight years of drought in India.

On Monday, landslides and heavy rains blocked highways leading to Tibet and Manali, a tourist resort in Himachal Pradesh state, with hundreds of people stranded for several hours before rescuers cleared the way, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

In Bihar state, around 260,000 flood victims were taking shelter in more than 400 relief camps set up by the state government. At least 400 medical camps have been set up as well to aid people who have spent several nights outdoors after their homes were submerged by rainwaters.

In Assam, where floodwaters started receding on Tuesday, some 3.8 million people have been affected by the floods, according to state authorities. More than 700,000 have taken shelter in 770 relief camps.

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