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Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
India battles floodwaters

Officials in India's north eastern state of Assam say about 250,000 people have been made homeless by heavy flooding in the state.

Local reports from the area describe a pattern of flash floods caused by heavy rainfall which can quickly recede.

Emergency food relief is now being handed out by the government to people displaced by the waters.

Assam villagers cope with floods
Major rivers in the region are prone to flood at this time of year
In just one of the worst affected districts, Dhemaji, officials say about 30,000 people have been displaced from flooded villages.

Many are now sheltering in relief camps receiving emergency government supplies of rice.

Local reports say that here, and in some other affected districts, floodwaters are already starting to recede.

Repair work has now started on damaged roads.

A flood control official in Assam told the BBC the situation was stable but not critical.

Floodwaters have risen above the danger level in one or two places, he said, but it is only considered critical when water is more than a metre above the danger level.

More rain predicted

But there are concerns the situation could still worsen.

Assam's chief secretary told the BBC that the state government was alarmed by weather forecasts predicting more heavy rainfall in the upper reaches of the main rivers.

If that happened, he said, the flood situation could become serious.

Army units in the state have been put on alert but have not yet been deployed to help with rescue work.

Rivers rising elsewhere

Meanwhile in the northern state of Bihar, about 200,000 people were also affected as rivers there reached the danger level.

Hundreds of people have fled to higher ground.

There has not been any report of loss of life.

This region is prone to flash floods at this time of year.

The steady silting of river beds, increased density of population, especially in flood plains, and increased rainfall, have all been cited in the past as possible contributing factors.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sanjay Dasgupta
"Thousands have been affected"
The BBC's Jill McGivering
"The flood situation could become more serious"
See also:

11 Jun 01 | South Asia
06 Aug 00 | South Asia
28 Jun 00 | Science/Nature
04 Aug 00 | South Asia
22 Feb 00 | South Asia
26 Nov 99 | South Asia
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