After floods, drought fears loom in Assam

Heatstroke claims two lives as temperatures spike

July 20, 2018 10:33 pm | Updated 10:33 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Morigaon district has received 30% less rain than normal.

Morigaon district has received 30% less rain than normal.

Heatstroke claimed the lives of at least two people, including a police constable, in Assam on Friday as the temperature nudged the 40 degree mark. Unconfirmed reports put the death toll at four.

Officials in western Assam’s Kokrajhar district said constable Badarsing Narzary collapsed and died while on duty during Governor Jagdish Mukhi's visit. Another constable, Lalmohan Barman, is under treatment at the Kokrajhar civil hospital.

Officials in north-eastern Assam’s Sonitpur district said an unidentified person died of heatstroke in Balipara town. A death each was reported from Morigaon and Kamrup districts too.

The day also saw 21 students of a women’s arts college in central Assam’s Hojai collapse due to heat. Officials said they are recovering at a private hospital there.

Meteorologists said Assam has been experiencing one of the hottest summers in the last six decades. The highest temperature on Friday was 39 degrees centigrade, a degree more than the average high during the hottest phase in Assam.

According to records maintained by the Regional Meteorological Centre at Borjhar, temperature in Guwahati had reached a high of 40 degrees Celsius in 1960.

RMC scientist Sunit Das said temperatures would come down by the weekend with some rainfall activity expected in the Northeast.

“Temperatures have risen as the easterly and north-easterly winds are not carrying any moisture from the Bay of Bengal,” he said.

But the India Meteorological Department has forecast deficit rainfall across the region. Till July 17, monsoon deficiency was 26% in Assam.

The meteorologists have also not ruled out a drought-like situation, specifically in Assam’s Morigaon district that has received 30% less rainfall than the normal mark. This is ironical for a district that experiences flood and erosion at least twice a year.

The dry run in the Northeast has come less than a month after five States — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura — experienced flash floods and erosion claiming more than 60 lives. More than 30 of them died in Assam.

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