29 dead in Indian floods

Last updated 00:41 01/07/2012

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Surging flood waters have killed at least 29 people and displaced more than a million others in northeastern India, officials said Saturday.

Heavy monsoon rains have caused the Brahmaputra River - one of Asia's largest - to overflow its banks and inundate more than 2,000 villages across Assam state, according to the flood control centre in the state capital, Gauhati.

This year's flooding is the worst to hit the state in many years. Air force helicopters have been delivering food and dropping off relief workers to affected areas over the last two days.

The heavy rains eased Saturday after more than a week, but more light rain is forecast over the next 24 hours.

The monsoon season in India begins in June and ends in September.

Assam, a state of 26 million people, suffers flooding almost every year. Officials said at least 29 people have died in the past week and more than a million others have been forced to leave their homes.

The floods also submerged large swathes of a national wildlife reserve, Kaziranga National Park, which is home to more than 2,000 of the estimated 3,000 one-horn rhinos left in the wild.

Officials said three rhinos have drowned during the past week and several dozen deer have been killed by the flooding or by speeding vehicles after they ran onto the highway that runs alongside the park to escape the rising waters. On Thursday, a rhino was seen walking on the highway, trying to cross the road and move to higher ground.

Officials said wildlife wardens have been put on high alert to prevent the poaching of animals leaving the park. Rhino horns are in great demand, particularly in Southeast Asia, for use in traditional medicines. They also are used to make decorative dagger handles.

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- AP

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