The Heat Is Online

Indian flood -- Aug. 1998

"Floods wreak further havoc across India", Reuters, Sept. 8, 1998

By Biswajyoti Das

GUWAHATI, India - Swollen rivers around India rose further on Monday, posing new threats to millions of people as well as crops and wildlife, officials said.

Flooding in the tea-and oil-rich northeastern state of Assam has forced more than 3.6 million people to seek shelter in nearly 400 government relief camps, the officials said.

A dozen people, including four children, were drowned and washed away in the state on Sunday, raising the death toll there due to floods and landslides to 200 in the past four months.

Fresh flood deaths were also reported on Sunday from India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, in the north, where 49 of its 83 districts were in the grip of monsoon floods.

The floods toll there climbed to 1,186 after six deaths were reported from Ghazipur district and 51 deaths in other flood-stricken areas, Uttar Pradesh's Principal Secretary, Naresh Dayal, told Reuters on Sunday.

Dayal said the Yamuna and Tons rivers were still rising, flooding villages in Auraiya and Ghazipur districts.

Officials in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal said the river Ganges and two of its tributaries were on the rise and almost the entire township of Malda had been submerged.

In Assam, tea and oil operations have not been affected but prolonged rainfall threatened road links, officials said.

"The year-end crops are likely to be affected because of night temperature falling and high water table due to heavy rainfall in the last few months," said R. Bora, a tea garden manager at Dibrugarh, some 450 km (279 miles) from Assam's main city of Guwahati.

Meteorological officials said more rain and thunderstorms were expected in many areas including the isolated eastern hilly regions, the source for many rivers.

"Heavy rains would affect the quality of tea, influencing prices," tea broker Kamal Chandra Das told Reuters. Assam produces more than half the country's tea output.

Crude oil exploration sites of Oil India Ltd were also not seriously affected but restricted vehicle movement was hampering work, a company official said.

Officials said water had completely submerged the Kaziranga National Park where 17 rhinos, six elephants and 100 deer were thought to have been drowned by floods in the last four months.

"More than 90 percent of the park is still under water and it (water level) might increase by today (Monday) afternoon," park director B.S. Bonal told Reuters by telephone.

Kaziranga park, home to the single-horn rhinos, covers 453 sq km (175 sq miles) and borders on the Brahmaputra river.

The Brahmaputra, which flows into Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal, has wrought havoc in Bangladesh, claiming 700 lives and submerging three-quarters of the country.

The floods have caused severe damage to agriculture, business and infrastructure and have cut off a vital highway linking capital with the port city of Chittagong.

Indian border guards were put on alert after the heavily populated town of Dhubri, close to the India-Bangladesh border, was completely submerged.

(C) Reuters Limited 1998.


"Flood toll in India increases to 1,118" Boston Globe (AP) Sept. 2, 1998:

Itaunja, INDIA - Raging rivers swamped new areas in Northern India yesterday, drawing out cobras and vipers that posed another threat in a countryside ravaged by three weeks of flooding. The flood death toll climbed to 1,118. Nearly 10 million people in 23,300 villages in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, with 150 million people, were driven from their homes, stranded by high waters or lost their livelihoods, officials said.


Agence France-Presse

NEW DELHI, Aug 25 (AFP) - Troops have rushed to the northern Indian town of Gorakhpur to combat the latest in a series of flood disasters that have already claimed 900 lives and displaced millions across four states, reports said Tuesday.

The flooded Rapti river breached a dam late Monday, inundating Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh state, close to the Nepal border, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

Indian troops from neighbouring regions were immediately deployed in Gorakhpur, around 650 kilometers (410 miles) east of New Delhi, to assist the civilian administration in rescue and relief efforts.

The town and many surrounding areas were plunged into darkness after river water seeped into the town's main power station, PTI said. "The situation (is) likely to worsen," it added. Rampaging Indian rivers, fed by torrential monsoon rains, have played havoc across the states of Uttar Pradesh, neighbouring Bihar, West Bengal and Assam over the past two months. Officials have put the death toll in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, at 586 and in Bihar at 189. About 100 people have died in Assam and 20 in West Bengal. Both states border Bangladesh.

The United News of India (UNI) said nearly 10 million people, mostly villagers, had been displaced in Bihar state alone. Nearly 6,500 villages have been badly hit.

Thousands of people had also reportedly lost their homes in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam. Some 30,000 homeless people had taken shelter along a national highway and railway tracks in Bihar located on higher ground, UNI said. The floods have also caused large-scale destruction to private and government property, washed away crops, and damaged communication networks in the four states.