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Days of extremely heavy rains trigger floods and landslides, affecting 30 000 in northeastern India


Extremely heavy rains have been impacting India's northeastern states since May 20, 2020, causing flooding and landslides that killed at least one person in Sikkim and affected around 30 000 in Assam, where a severe flood situation alert has been issued by the Central Water Commission (CMC) on May 26.

In Assam, the Puthimari and Jia Bharali rivers became swollen following heavy downpour brought by the remains of Tropical Cyclone "Amphan." 

The highest flood level for the Brahmaputra in the Jorhat stretch is 87.7 m (287.7 feet) and the current level is 85.8 m (281.5 feet), according to local media. In Jiabharali, the highest flood level is 78.5 m (257.5 feet) and the current level is 77.4 m (253.9 feet).

According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), a total of 128 villages in eight revenue circles of Lakhimpur Dehmaji, Dibrugarh, Darrang, and Goalpara districts were impacted, and a total of 30 701 people were affected in the state.

The worst-hit is the district of Goalpara, where 33 relief camps have been set up, accommodating almost 9 000 people.

Around 579 ha (1 430 acres) of crop areas in the districts of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji were also hit, and nearly 12 000 domestic animals and poultry have been affected.

Flooding is a yearly occurrence in Assam, usually starting at the beginning of the monsoon season. However, the current flooding came about three to four weeks earlier than normal.

On Tuesday, May 26, the CMC has issued a flood alert for the Brahmaputra river in three districts of Assam namely Jorhat, Sonitpur, and Baksa.

In Sikkim, incessant rains triggered a landslide in the Upper Lingchom area on May 24, killing at least one person and leaving two others injured. According to officials, the victim lost her life while trying to escape the mudslide. Several houses sustained damages, prompting evacuations. 

Heavy rainfall also disrupted the water supply lines and sources of Gangtok and nearby areas. While field engineers were able to restore it temporarily, the water had high turbidity, affecting water distribution. 

According to SkyMet Weather's Mahesh Palawat, the threat will remain over Assam until May 28. "South-westerly wind blowing from the Bay of Bengal is increasing the moisture content in the area due to it there is more rainfall. The rains will, however, decrease after two days."

Featured image credit: Prakash Adhikari

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