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5 killed in Assam storm

People removing huge trees uprooted by a storm that hit Guwahati Saturday night. A man walks underneath an uprooted tree. (EP)
Published on 26 Apr. 2010 12:04 AM IST
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A devastating thunderstorm in Assam has claimed five lives and injured nearly 100 people, besides flattening at least 4,000 houses, officials said Sunday.
The storm lasted for about 45 minutes Saturday night, leaving a trail of destruction in most parts of Assam with the state’s main city of Guwahati among the worst hit.
One person was killed in Goalpara district, while another died in Darrang district in the thunderstorm. The storm was accompanied by heavy rains with wind speed of about 80 km per hour. A government spokesperson said three people died Sunday in different hospitals in Kampur village in eastern Nagaon district. All of them had received multiple injuries after they were hit by either flying debris or trapped after their homes caved in.
According to latest reports, up to 4,000 homes were flattened across the state with the worst hit districts being Kamrup (Rural), Kamrup (Metro), Nagaon, Goalpara, Darrang, Chirang, Baksa, Nalbari and Barpeta.
“It was a real devastating storm with the damage quite extensive. We are assessing the damage and doing our best to provide relief to those affected,” state Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Bhumidhar Barman said. Most parts of the state plunged into darkness with power supply badly hit as trees fell on high tension wires and electric poles were uprooted. Road communication was severely disrupted in several areas with uprooted trees and electric poles blocking highways and other roads.
“Efforts are now on to clear roads and restore power supply,” the official said. In Guwahati, at least 30 people were injured with trees falling on moving vehicles, while flying tin roofs in several areas wounded panic-stricken pedestrians who were caught unawares by the sudden thunderstorm.
This is the second massive thunderstorm to have hit Assam within a fortnight. On April 16, a cyclonic storm damaged up to 300 homes in several parts of the state.
The meteorological department Sunday predicted more rain and thunderstorms over most parts of Assam in the next couple of days. Flash floods triggered by heavy rains have, meanwhile, displaced more than 175,000 people in an estimated 300 villages in Assam, besides claiming two lives. A government spokesperson said the worst hit districts so far are Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Jorhat, and Tinsukia in eastern Assam.
Two youths were drowned Friday in the Dibru river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra in Tinsukia, when they went in a country boat to collect timber floating in the river.
An estimated 125,000 people are displaced in the worst-hit Lakhimpur district alone, about 400 km east of Guwahati.
“Most of the flood-hit people are now taking shelter in raised platforms, on railway tracks and also in government schools and offices so far untouched by the floods,” the minister said.
A Central Water Commission bulletin said the Brahmaputra and its tributaries were flowing above the danger mark in at least eight places. Gushing floodwaters had breached at least four vital mud embankments in the state.

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