09/12/2007, 00.00
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In Assam monsoon rains displace 3.5 million people in a week

Rivers overflow because of heavy rains. Some 9,000 villages are swamped; roads are blocked. Military moves in with boats and helicopters to help people. Substantial damages are also reported in Manipur and Bangladesh. Two more days of rain are expected.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – One week of nonstop rains and rivers have broken their banks flooding some 9,000 villages out of 23,000 in north-eastern Assam. Some 3.5 million people have been displaced and about 400,000 hectares (990,000 acres) of land is now under water

Soldiers in motor boats and helicopters had to intervene to rescue marooned people. More than 500 relief camps have been set up in government buildings and schools. However, at least half a million people had to find refuge on higher ground not far from their homes.

More rain is expected over the next 48 hours.

In the neighbouring state of Manipur the situation is not as bad. But at least 55,000 people have become homeless and are now staying in more than 30 relief camps.

Road links to the state of Sikkim, which borders China, were disrupted as a result of landslides.

Since July, more than 10 million people have been displaced by floods in Assam—more than 60 people, ten in the past week, have died even though the rain has abated since mid-August.

The Brahmaputra River, which originates in Tibet, travels 1,200 kilometres across the Assam plains before reaching the Bay of Bengal. Along with its innumerable tributaries, it usually floods its banks every monsoon season bringing misery to Assam’s 27 million people, killing tens of them, wiping out homes, infrastructures and farmland.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, about 850 people have died since late July. Around 1.5 million have been made homeless or marooned.

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