May 18, 2022 14:35 UTC
  • Millions of Indians escape heavy floods in northeast triggered by pre-monsoon rain

Authorities in India's northeastern state of Assam reported on Wednesday that more than 500,000 people have fled their homes to avoid massive floods produced by pre-monsoon rains.

At least 11 people have died in floods and mudslides triggered by heavy rains in India’s remote northeast region, officials said Tuesday.

Seven other people were reported killed in neighboring Assam. The state’s disaster management agency said nearly 700 villages were underwater, ABC reported.

Several railway stations were closed because of floods, said Nazreen Ahmed, a senior official in Assam’s Dima Hasao district. She said nearly 200,000 people in the district were cut off from the rest of the state as roads and bridges were either blocked by landslides or washed away.

One of the world's largest rivers, the Brahmaputra, which flows into India and neighboring Bangladesh from Tibet, burst its banks in Assam over the last three days, inundating more than 1,500 villages.

Torrential rains lashed most of the rugged state, and the downpour continued on Wednesday, with more forecast over the next two days.

"More than 500,000 people have been affected, with the flood situation turning critical by the hour," Assam's water resources minister, Pijush Hazarika, told Reuters, adding that the seven drowned in separate incidents during the last three days.

Soldiers of the Indian army retrieved more than 2,000 people trapped in the district of Hojai in a rescue effort that continues, the state's health minister, Keshab Mahanta, said.

Water levels in the Brahmaputra were expected to rise further, national authorities said.

Cities elsewhere in India, notably the capital, New Delhi, are broiling in a heat wave.