• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Environment

Floods ease in northeast India but leave scores dead & threaten wildlife

Heavy rains leave 72 dead, while schools and colleges closed in Mumbai

Kaziranga is home to two-thirds of the world’s remaining one-horned rhinos

By: Eastern Eye

DEVASTATING floods in India’s northeastern parts have left scores of people dead and swamped a national park, with six threatened rhinos and other wildlife drowning, government officials said on Tuesday (9).

Floods have begun to ease, Assam state chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a statement, noting that the “water level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries is below the danger level in most places.” More than 1.8 million people have been affected across 3,000 villages, with 72 killed since mid-May, according to state disaster officials.

Intense monsoon storms on Monday (8) also left parts of Mumbai flooded, while lightning in the eastern state of Bihar killed at least 10 people, government officials said. Mumbai’s city council ordered schools and colleges shut on Monday as a precautionary measure, reporting that the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had warned of “heavy to very heavy rainfall.

Many streets were underwater in the coastal city after hours of heavy rain, with several bus and train services suspended.

In Bihar, 10 people were killed in separate lightning strikes last Sunday (7), state chief minister Nitish Kumar said in a statement, asking people to “stay indoors during bad weather.”

Monsoon rains across south Asia from June to September offer respite from the summer heat and are crucial to replenishing water supplies, but also bring widespread death and destruction.

LEAD Assam INSET Mumbai GettyImages 2160520513 2
A flooded

Floods ease in northeast India but leave scores dead & threaten wildlife
A flooded road in Mumbai on Monday (8)

The number of fatal floods and landslides has increased in recent years, and experts say climate change is exacerbating the problem.

In Assam, as the waters receded, the impact on wildlife from the deluge was seen, including in Kaziranga National Park. “Floods have affected humans and animals alike,” Sarma said, adding officers had been “working round the clock to aid everyone.” On Monday, Sarma posted a video on social media of a stranded rhino calf, up to its chin in water, saying he had “instructed its immediate rescue.”

Kaziranga is home to two-thirds of the world’s remaining one-horned rhinos, classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. The park has 2,413 rhinos, according to a 2018 count.

Wildlife officers said six rhinos as well as scores of deer had been killed in recent days. “Although there is higher ground for the shelter of the animals, the animals suffer when the high floods affect the park,” said a senior park official, who was not authorised to speak to the media, confirming the animal deaths.

Kaziranga, a UNESCO world heritage site, is flooded almost every year, helping replenish water supplies and the ecological balance of the park.

Flooding has also affected 31 villages in Uttar Pradesh state on the Nepal border, the state government said. Torrential monsoon rains have triggered floods and landslides in Nepal, where at least 11 people were killed. (Agencies)

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