Over one crore people were left reeling under flood fury in Bihar and Assam on Thursday amid mounting death toll, as swollen rivers swamped vast swathes in villages and towns, officials said. The death toll from floods shot up to 78 in Bihar, with 11 more casualties reported during the last 24 hours. Altogether 18 people have died in Sitamarhi district alone on the Indo-Nepal border. The state is grappling with flash floods caused by torrential rain in Nepal over the last few days. Over 54 lakh people were hit in Assam where floods claimed nine more human lives, taking the number of those dead during the current spell of monsoon rage to 36.
More than 2.26 lakh displaced people were taking shelter in 1080 relief camps, with large areas of 28 of the state's 33 districts affected. The state administration is also running 689 relief distribution centres where essential items like food, potable water, baby food, medicines, mosquito repellants, sanitary napkins and fodder are being provided.
Of the nine deaths reported Thursday, three were from Morigaon, two in Biswanath, and one each from Sonitpur, Udalguri, Bongaigaon and Barpeta districts, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said. Barpeta district was the worst hit with 13.48 lakh people facing the wrath of nature. Officials said over 4,000 houses were damaged across the state where rampaging waters swept away 130 animals, besides affecting many more, including 23 lakh poultry.
The NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) and SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) teams were working round the clock to evacuate those marooned. Several rivers, including the mighty Brahmaputra and its tributaries were in spate, including in the state capital Guwahati.
Large parts of Kaziranga National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, home to Assam's famed one-horned rhinoceros, continued to be under water. A Royal Bengal Tiger strayed into a shop-cum-house in Kaziranga National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and sauntered around a room before firecrackers were burst to scare it away into the jungle.
Turbid waters of swollen rivers engulfed vast countryside in 12 districts of Bihar, where people could be seen gingerly trying to find their way to safety with bamboo sticks in hand. In rural Darbhanga, village after village was marooned, many of them empty with the inhabitants having fled to the relative safety of relief camps.
While Sitamarhi accounted for 18 deaths, 14 people have died in Madhubani, 12 in Araria and nine each in Sheohar and Darbhanga. Seven lives were lost in Purnea, four in Kishanganj and three in Supaul. No causualties have been reported from flood-hit Muzaffarpur, Saharsa and Katihar districts so far.