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Military called in to help flood-hit NE India
by Staff Writers
Guwahati, India (AFP) Sept 25, 2012

Britain faces more floods as hundreds evacuated
London (AFP) Sept 26, 2012 - Britain was bracing for more torrential rain on Wednesday as hundreds of people spent the night away from their flooded homes following two days of heavy downpours.

More than 300 properties were flooded Tuesday, many close to England's northeast coast, as some areas received more than a month's average rainfall in 24 hours and the historic market town of Morpeth in Northumberland was swamped.

More than 80 flood warnings were in place across the country, mostly in the northeast, plus 139 less serious flood alerts.

Water levels were set to continue rising along the Severn river and Ouse river in Yorkshire, according to the Environment Agency.

Flooding caused severe disruption to roads and railway lines across the north of England and Wales on Tuesday, including the East Coast Mainline which links London with Leeds, York and Newcastle.

"An unusually deep area of low pressure for this time of year will continue to bring heavy rain and strong winds to parts of the UK for the next day or so," Martin Young, chief forecaster at national body the Met Office, said Tuesday.

"The rain will gradually ease away from Scotland, but further heavy rain is expected across parts of Wales and southern England where up to 40 millimetres (1.6 inches) of rain may fall locally in places over the next 24 hours."

More than 100 vehicles were trapped for several hours on the A1 road in northern England because of flooding, with parts of the road -- which runs from London to Edinburgh -- remaining closed, the BBC reported.

The weather was set to return to "fairly standard autumn weather" on Thursday, the Met Office said, warning the public to remain alert in the meantime and avoid floodwaters.

Air force helicopters and soldiers in rubber dinghies helped deliver fresh water and food to flood victims in northeast India on Tuesday as the number of displaced rose to 1.8 million.

Nineteen of 27 districts in the state of Assam have been hit by floods and 13 people have been killed over the past week, according to the latest figures from the local disaster management authority.

The remote and impoverished state, which was rocked by ethnic violence last month, has been flooded three times this year by the mighty Brahmaputra River, which often breaks its banks during the monsoon season.

"We have called in the army to assist civil authorities in rescue operations in several parts of the state where people are trapped with floodwaters entering their homes," Assam's Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Prithibi Majhi told AFP.

Thousands of people in Majuli, a densely populated river island about 350 kilometres (220 miles) from Assam's main city of Guwahati, have fled to higher ground or are crowded onto embankments.

An air force helicopter, flying missions in between rain storms, was seen dropping packets of rice, water, biscuits and baby food on one embankment, sparking a scramble among young and old.

"We just had enough time to pick up some clothes and drinking water bottles before we got onto a boat to reach a highland some distance away," elderly local Bhabani Pegu told the News Live channel.

"There was a breach in the dyke and soon water swept through the village before anybody could react."

Rain is continuing to pound Assam and adjoining Arunachal Pradesh state, where the Brahmaputra flows into India from its starting point in bordering Tibet. The number of displaced people stood at 1.5 million on Monday.

According to the Central Water Commission, the river was flowing above the danger level in at least 10 places in Assam and still rising.

A government relief effort is gathering pace to help the stranded and displaced, but is being hampered by the bad weather.

"We have opened more than 3,000 makeshift camps so far across the state," Assam Agriculture Minister Nilamoni Sen Deka told AFP.

"The actual damage caused to standing crops is yet to be assessed, but going by the magnitude it appears the loss would be tremendous."

Floodwaters have also submerged the internationally famous 430-square-kilometre (166-square-mile) Kaziranga National Park in eastern Assam, home to the world's largest concentration of endangered one-horned rhinos.

"Almost the entire park is under water with animals fleeing the sanctuary to safer areas," a park ranger said, requesting not to be named.

Authorities are asking truckers and other drivers on a nearby national highway to drive at less than 40 kilometres an hour to reduce the risks for wildlife fleeing the floods.

The Brahmaputra has flooded twice already this year, in June and in August, an official in the local weather office told AFP.


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Million displaced by floods in India: officials
Guwahati, India (AFP) Sept 24, 2012
Devastating floods have forced more than one million people to flee their homes in northeastern India where authorities have called a health alert, officials said on Monday. "So far 18 of 27 districts of Assam have been hit by floods with more than one million displaced and 11 people drowned in separate incidents in the past week," the Disaster Management agency said in a statement. Resc ... read more

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