Three killed, two missing in Meghalaya floods

Tura (Meghalaya), July 30 (IANS) Three people – a young woman and two minors, drowned and two others were missing in the flood-hit areas of western Meghalaya on Saturday, even as thousands of people are living in makeshift shelters.

The flood waters, which have affected the normal life of over one lakh people in 258 villages, have however started to recede in some of the affected areas, West Garo Hills District Magistrate Pravin Bakshi told IANS.

“Two minors – 16-year-old boy Asraful Hoque and eight-year-old girl Atuba Begum – and 19-year-old Sahida Bibi died due to drowning in the flood waters,” he said, adding two people are reportedly missing, and efforts are on to trace them.

A total number of 1,21,535 people in 258 villages were affected after the swollen Brahmaputra and Jingiram rivers submerged many villages under Phulbari, Rajabala, Singimari, Paham, Bhaitbari and Hallidayganj areas.

The Jingiram, one of the major rivers in Garo Hills, caused havoc after a major embankment was breached. The backflow of water in the Brahmaputra in Assam aggravated the floods.

National Peoples Party President, Conrad K. Sangma, who is the Lok Sabha member from Tura, urged the state government to ensure supply of essential commodities and safe drinking water to the affected people besides taking immediate steps to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases.

“I have visited almost all the flood-hit areas and the immediate plea of the affected people was to ensure food supplies,” Sangma told IANS.

Sangma, who had urged the central government to declare the flood as a national calamity, suggested the Meghalaya government to seek the assistance of Department of Space for accurate assessment of damage caused by the floods on agricultural lands.

Speaker Abu Taher Mondal, who has been camping in his Phulbari assembly constituency, said that government will start the supply of relief material to displaced people from Sunday.

Bakshi said the government has placed over 100 boats at different locations for relief and rescue operations.

He said that there was a heavy loss of agriculture, and as per the reports of the agriculture department, 2,223.3 hectares were affected along with 258 villages.

Health authorities in the Garo Hills on Monday said they feared an epidemic if precautions are not taken after floodwaters recede.

“We are apprehending that many water-borne diseases might break out in the flood-hit areas once the water-level starts receding in the next 10 to 15 days,” a health official said.

The medical department has also announced precautionary measures to check the outbreak of diseases.

Public Health Engineering (PHE) officials have distributed chlorine tablets and bleaching powder among the people to prevent any outbreak of water-borne diseases.

–IANS

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