Situation in Assam, Arunachal worsens; ITBP, BRO personnel among victims

Landslips triggered by heavy rain claimed 27 lives, including those of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) personnel, in Sikkim, even as the flood situation in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh deteriorated.

Official sources said in Gangtok on Sunday that at least 21 bodies, including those of the ITBP and BRO personnel, were found while eight persons were missing following flash floods and landslips in remote areas of North Sikkim.

Army and Indian Air Force personnel have launched rescue operations in full swing in the badly affected areas.

The dead include four from the ITBP, two of their family members, and 12 junior officers from the BRO. Other victims were casual labourers, they said. Most of the casualties were reported from Rangma range.

Landslips were caused by heavy rain since September 19, Deputy Commissioner of North district T.W. Khangsherpa said, adding there were about nine landslips blocking the main road between Chungthang and Mangan in the district.

In the small hours of Sunday, another landslip occurred about a kilometre from Mangan, the district headquarter town of North Sikkim, blocking NH 31-A, leaving the northern side of the Himalayan State cut off.

In Assam, the flood situation deteriorated with 15 districts reeling under its impact, as large parts of the Dibru-Saikhowa and Kaziranga National Parks and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary were submerged. Five deaths have been reported, official sources said in Guwahati.

The surging waters of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries overran fresh areas, affecting an estimated 5 lakh people in Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Tinsukia, Golaghat, Morigaon, Dhemaji, Kamrup (Rural), Lakhimpur, Baksa, Barpeta, Jorhat, Nalbari, Sibsagar and Udalguri districts.

Troops of the Tezpur-headquartered Gajraj Corps swung into action in flood-hit Sonitpur district of central Assam and rescued around 1,500 civilians in the past four to five days. The IAF also dropped 2.4 tonnes of relief material. In Sonitpur district, the Army and the National Disaster Relief Force were assisting the district administration in rescue and relief operations, pressing into service 10 special boats. Road communication had been snapped by the deluge, district Deputy Commissioner Tapan Chandra Sarma said.

The Tinsukia district administration has airlifted 100 marooned people in the waterlogged Sadiya subdivision’s Paanch Mile area and Army helicopters were airdropping food items there.

In the third wave of floods this year, two persons, including a woman, were washed away in Dibrugarh district on Saturday, one person drowned in the Demow river in Dhemaji district and two others in Tinsukia district’s Dhola area on September 13.

Incessant rains in Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan foothills and in Assam for the last 15 days have caused the Brahmaputra and its tributaries to rise above the danger level in most places and breach river dykes, embankments and overflow into human habitats and farmland.

Over 2 lakh people have been affected in the fresh wave of floods in five districts of Arunachal Pradesh, with a majority of the rivers and tributaries flowing over the danger mark on Sunday, official sources said in Itanagar. One person died in floods in the State.

At least 39 marooned people, including 12 children, who were stranded between the branches of the Lohit River since four days were rescued by the IAF on Saturday evening, Lohit Deputy Commissioner R.K. Sharma said.

Meanwhile, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi has assured Arunachal Chief Minister Nabam Tuki that the Centre would soon send a team to take stock of the damage caused by floods in the State.

Ms. Gandhi, during a meeting with the Chief Minister on Saturday, said the Centre was aware of the worsening flood situation in Arunachal and assured all possible help to repair the damage caused.