India reels from floods, heatwave: 1 500 dead

While vast tracts of India were still reeling on Tuesday under a heatwave which has claimed more than 1 500 lives, monsoon rains lashing the country’s north-east prompted authorities to put out flood warnings.

The south-west monsoons reached India’s north-east last week and the area has been receiving heavy rains since then, officials said.

The Central Water Commission on Tuesday issued a warning that Assam state’s major river, the Brahmaputra, was rising and that its waters were flowing above danger level in four main channels.

For villagers, the monsoon rains mean floods—with some four million people last year being left homeless when the Brahmaputra burst its banks.

Many, like Dharanidhar Das and his family, who live in Majuli, the world’s largest river island, are already preparing for the worst.

He and his fellow villagers are busy making boats to keep them afloat once the river bursts floods the island.

“It is just a matter of time before the Brahmaputra surges from its channels and swallows up villages,” Das said.

Monsoon rains were also lashing parts of the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, bringing respite from the heat, reports said.

The clouds were expected to advance northwards next week, officials said, bringing heavy rains to the state of Andhra Pradesh, where 1 401 have died of heat-induced ailments since mid-May.

At least 112 people have been killed in other parts of India, bringing the national toll to 1 513.

The western city of Pune received some pre-monsoon showers on Monday and India’s financial hub, Bombay, which has been wilting under high temperatures, experienced brief showers Tuesday morning.

Parts of northern India are still in the grip of scorching heat, with temperatures in the capital New Delhi not dipping below 40 degrees Celsius during the day.

Dust storms were predicted in the western desert state of Rajasthan and northern state of Haryana, which were expected to bring some relief from the sizzling conditions, news reports said.

On Monday, changing weather conditions saw seven people killed in a squall in eastern Jharkhand state, police said. - Sapa-AFP


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