Jim Andrews

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India Floods Displace Millions as Summer Monsoon Wanes

September 27, 2012; 8:52 AM ET

Recent outbursts of torrential rain, striking at the tail end of the summer Monsoon, have triggered major flooding in northeastern India, according to multiple news reports.

At least 18 people have died and more than 2 million have been driven from their homes in the state of Assam, the Australian ABC News website said on Thursday.

At least 19 of 27 districts in Assam have been subject to flooding, with 2,600 villages affected, ABC News indicated.

Stranded residents were being supplied by heavy-lift helicopters air-dropping food and medicine.

This scene, captured about 60 km east of Guwahati, India, hints at the shear scale of inundation in the state of Assam. The Brahmaputra River and many of its tributaries have burst their banks following two weeks of unusually heavy rain. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath, taken Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012).

About 400,000 hectares (about 1 million acres) of crops have been "affected," the report said.

The primary culprit in the flooding seemed to be the Brahmaputra River, flowing through Assam to its delta in Bangladesh.

As of Wednesday, the flood crest seemed to have passed main city of Guwahati, the Times of India website said.

Furthermore, a break in the rains over the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra hinted that the worst may be over for many people in the region.

At the same time, downstream Bangladesh was have its own struggle with flooding. Nearly 250,000 people have been "trapped" by rising water, the ABC website said.

The Brahmaputra, one of Asia's mightiest rivers, drains some of the wettest landscapes in the world.

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The state of Assam, which is bisected by the Brahmaputra as it flows east to west, is ringed by lofty mountains, including the eastern Himalaya. Between May and September, these highlands wring torrents of rain from the South West Monsoon's moisture-laden winds, causing the Brahmaputra to swell into a brawling monster, literally miles wide.

Rainfall in the week which ended Wednesday was more than twice the weekly normal amount in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, most of which land drains to the Brahmaputra, data of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) showed. It was also the second straight week of above-normal rainfall in the region.

The South West Monsoon normally withdraws from the northeastern corner of the Indian Subcontinent during the first week or two of October.

However, this week's lull in rain over the region is not likely to be the end of the season's rain, as at least another week of showers and thunderstorms, having locally heavy rain, is indicated by numerical forecast models.

Aside from the heavy human impact, officials were dealing with the matter of endangered rhinoceroses.

In their last stronghold of Kaziranga National Park, rhinos and other wildlife were suffering from the effects of floods. A number of rhinos died as a result of the flooding or fell prey to poachers.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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