Floods ravage northeastern India, killing at least 12
A boy rides a bike wrapped in a raincoat as it rains in Mumbai, India, Saturday, July 13, 2019. India receives its monsoon rain from June to September. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
GAUHATI, India -- Rain-triggered floods and mudslides have left a trail of destruction across northeastern India, killing at least a dozen people and affecting over a million, officials said Saturday.
Two schoolchildren were killed and several others injured earlier in the week near the town of Tawang when a wall from their boarding school collapsed as they were sleeping. Tawang, located in Arunachal Pradesh state, is perched at an altitude of 2,900 metres (9,500 feet).
Also in Arunachal Pradesh, a 36-year-old woman was swept away and three other people were killed when their car skidded and fell into a gorge. Six others were killed in neighbouring Assam state.
"My appeal to people is to be on alert and those living in lowlands may move to safer higher grounds," said Pema Khandu, chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, the state closest to China's Tibet region.
"We have put the entire disaster management agencies besides the police and the paramilitary on alert and have issued an advisory to the people not to travel unless required in unavoidable situations," Bamang Felix, Arunachal Pradesh's home minister, said by phone from the state's capital, Itanagar.
Assam's State Disaster Response Authority said nearly 900,000 people spread over 21 of the state's 33 districts have had their homes submerged. Several thousands are living in government-run relief camps in the state.
Elsewhere in Assam, Kaziranga National Park, home to the endangered one-horn rhinoceros, has been flooded. The park is located 225 kilometres (140 miles) east of Gauhati, the state capital.
"The rhinos and other animals are taking shelter in artificially created higher ground or have crossed the highway to higher areas," said Jukti Borak, a park official.
Authorities have prohibited vehicles from speeding on the highway that runs along the park. Apart from the estimated 2,500 rhinos, Kaziranga is home to a variety of wild animals that cross the highway in search of higher ground during floods.
Floods and mudslides have also hit some other northeastern states, including Meghalaya, Sikkim and Mizoram. In Mizoram, floods have submerged about 400 homes in the small town of Tlabung, police said.
Hydrologists and conservationists expressed grave concern over the situation.
"In the end, this is a clear case of climate change impacting on our ecosystem," said Nayan Sharma, a prominent hydrologist and professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee.