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Houses washed away in two states

- Widespread damage in Arunachal’s Upper Subansiri district; Assam rivers flowing above danger mark
Clockwise from top left: Villagers watch the breached embarkment of the Jiadhal at Tekjuri in Dhemaji district of Assam, children try to catch fish in a submerged village at Burgaon in Morigaon district, an inundated village at Daporijo in Arunachal Pradesh and a woman watches over her belongings at Burgaon on Friday. Pictures by UB Photos and Vinod Kumar Singh

Daporijo/Dhemaji, Aug. 22: Tagom Yekar woke up in the middle of the night and had to run to higher ground as an overflowing Subansiri river struck unsuspecting villagers in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Subansiri district today.

More than 200 houses in villages along the river were damaged in the early hours this morning.

Although there were no human casualties, floodwaters washed away livestock in the district headquarters of Daporijo and in Sippi, Menga, Dugi, Kuporijo and Dumporijo.

Yekar, a resident of Sikarijo and owner of a tourist lodge, said he woke up to the sound of gushing water around 2am. He said the water level rose to around 10 metres in a matter of minutes, flooding his house and washing away his belongings.

His neighbour Tajum Batak said he and his family were asleep when floodwaters entered their bamboo house. They manage to escape by cutting a hole in the bamboo wall.

The worst hit were villagers of Sippi, around 15km from Daporijo, where houses were left inundated, livestock and belongings swept away, rice fields flooded and bamboo groves uprooted.

Altogether 72 students of Dhulaam Raji Memorial Public School managed to escape to nearby Batem village.

Daporijo MLA Dikto Yekar was shocked by the level of damage caused by the river and assured villagers he would seek the state government’s help to provide relief.

The district disaster management authorities are still trying to ascertain the actual cause of the sudden rise in the water level of the Subansiri.

Upper Subansiri deputy commissioner Tahang Taggu, however, slammed earlier media reports that the flooding was the result of water being released from a dam in China, calling it an “unsubstantiated rumour”.

In Assam’s Lakhimpur district, the rising waters of the Subansiri washed away Rasu Basumatary, 26, of Chauldhua Sapori village, around 4 this afternoon.

Sources said Raju and his friend were trying to collect wood floating on the river, when the swift current washed him away.

During monsoon, people living near rivers flowing in the district usually collect wood floating on the water using large hooks.

The rise in the water level of Subansiri has forced 500 families to vacate their houses and take shelter in makeshift tarpaulin tents. A NHPC source said the Subansiri was flowing at 11,000-11,500 cusecs this morning.

On the other hand, the Jiadhal, a tributary of the Brahmaputra in Dhemaji, washed away 200metres of an embankment in Tekjuri today and inundated 30 villages under Dhemaji revenue circle.

The breach in the Jiadhal has affected around 10,000 people in the district.

On August 13, the Brahmaputra too, had washed away a portion of its dyke. According to Dhemaji deputy commissioner Monalisa Goswami, the number of flood-affected people in the district is 2.15 lakh.

According to the district administration, all tributaries of the Brahmaputra passing through Dhemaji are flowing above the danger level.

The breach by the Jiadhal has increased the problems of the people as incessant rain during the last two days has made it practically impossible for affected families to return home.

According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, rivers flowing above danger level are the Dhansiri at Numaligarh (Golaghat), the Jia Bharali at NT Road (Sonitpur), the Kopili at Dharamtul (Nagaon), the Beki at Road Bridge (Barpeta) and the Brahmaputra at Neematighat (Jorhat), Goalpara and Dhubri.

The districts of Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Dhemaji, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Morigaon, Dibrugarh, Kamrup, Goalpara, Nagaon and Nalbari are the worst-hit, where 998 villages and 31,414.80 hectares of land have been submerged.

Floods in the Kaziranga National Park have affected a total 43 anti-poaching camps. However, there have been no reports of animal deaths in the past 24 hours.

The flood situation in other national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state are stable.