India's interior minister conducts aerial survey of flood-ravaged northeastern state

Incessant rains over the past month have led to 26 deaths, inundated hundreds of villages, displacing thousands in the tea-growing and oil-rich state of Assam. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Guwahati, Assam, India Jul 31, 2016, 02.42 AM (IST)
At least 26 people have been killed in heavy rains and flooding in India's northeastern state of Assam, interior minister Rajnath Singh said after conducting an aerial survey of the affected areas on Saturday.

Incessant rains over the month have inundated hundreds of villages, displacing thousands of people in the tea-growing and oil-rich state of Assam.

Although the intensity of rains decreased over the weekend, officials said rivers were still in spate.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal accompanied Singh for the aerial survey and briefed him about the current scenario.

"I have been informed that nearly 26 people have died due to floods in a week -- in the last seven days. Nearly 3.7 million people have been affected in more than 28 districts," Singh said.

He promised federal government's support to the state to cope with the crisis.

"I have told them (provincial government) to spend freely for the service of people. The Indian government will extend all possible cooperation," Singh added.

Authorities in Assam have opened more than 800 temporary shelters and food and medicines distribution centers across the state, a senior official at the state disaster management authority said.

Flooding is an annual problem during the monsoon season in South Asia, but the impact has been worsened by crumbling civic infrastructure, clogged drains and uncontrolled urban expansion.

The June-September monsoon this year has so far delivered at least 4 per cent higher rainfall than average.