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Two million displaced by India floods: disaster agency

Flood affected people who took shelter on a bridge above the river Brahmaputra, eat a meal in Panikhaitee, outskirts of Gauhati, Assam state, India, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

GUWAHATI, India: Floods in northeastern India have forced two million to flee their homes and 18 people have been killed, the disaster management agency in Assam state said Wednesday.

"The total number of people displaced has gone up to two million and 18 people are dead so far in the third wave of flooding," the disaster management department said in its latest bulletin.

At least 19 of oil-rich Assam's 27 districts have been hit by floods over the past week and fresh rainfalls have been hampering a military-backed relief operation, according to officials.

"Rains and strong river currents are hampering relief and rescue operations by soldiers and Indian Air Force helicopters," defense ministry spokesman S.S. Phogat said in Guwahati, Assam's largest city.

He said despite bad weather heavy-lift helicopters were carrying out between eight and 10 sorties a day, dropping up to 1.5 tons of food, medicine and relief materials during each trip.

Phogat said he was unable to put a figure on the number of people rescued so far from flooded homes.

"Our priority right now is to rescue trapped people and reach food and medicines to those affected," he told AFP.

Some residents from flooded Majuli, a densely populated river island about 350 kilometers (220 miles) from Guwahati, complained of food shortages as well as a lack of government support.

"We have not got any relief supplies from the government and are almost starving," said Rupamoni Payeng, a mother of three children.

"Some food packets were dropped by helicopters, but there was a mad scramble and only a few managed to collect," she added.

 

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