It’s monsoon season in India. Recent rain-triggered floods and mudslides as well as lightning have already left a trail of destruction across the northeastern part of the country and other parts of South Asia. But the season, which runs June-September, is only about halfway through.
India’s officials are appealing to citizens to “be on alert.” Pema Khandu, chief minister of the Indian state closest to China’s Tibet region, advises, “Those living in lowlands should move to safer higher grounds.”
Yesterday, a three-story building collapsed near the town of Solan, a hilly area 195 miles north of New Delhi. Such collapses are common in India during the monsoon season, when heavy rains weaken the foundations of structures that are poorly constructed.
The state of Assam’s State Disaster Response Authority says around 900,000 people have had their homes submerged. Thousands are living in government-run relief camps in the state.
Elsewhere in Assam lies Kaziranga National Park. The park is home to the endangered one-horn rhinoceros. It is flooded too. “The rhinos and other animals are taking shelter in artificially created higher ground or have crossed the highway to higher areas,” says Jukti Borak, a park official.
Park authorities are prohibiting vehicles from speeding on the highway that runs along the park for fear of harming the displaced animals. Apart from about 2,500 rhinos, Kaziranga is home to a variety of wild animals.
Floods and mudslides have also hit some of India’s other northeastern states, including Meghalaya, Sikkim, and Mizoram. In Mizoram, floods have submerged about 400 homes in the small town of Tlabung.Sadly, at least one dozen people have died as a result of the flooding.
(Indian villagers cross floodwaters on country boats in Ashighar village, Morigaon district, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. AP Photo)