Monsoon leaves a trail of death and destruction in Assam

The death toll has risen to 121 as damage mounts from monsoon floods that devastated the north-eastern Indian state of Assam.

Villagers are still finding bodies in the receding waters of the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries. Yesterday the death toll stood at 121, including 16 buried in mudslides.

About half of the 2.2 million people who were displaced remain in makeshift shelters or are staying temporarily with relatives or friends.

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The central government has offered £58 million in aid to the agricultural state, where at least 627,600 acres of rice fields and other crops have been affected by the catastrophe

The situation on the world’s largest river island, Majuli, was also grim.

Almost the entire island has been submerged and more than 75 families made homeless because of heavy floods and subsequent erosion.

The floods also killed 559 animals in the Kaziranga game reserve, including more than 400 hog deer and 14 of its 2,300 endangered one-horned rhinos. State environment minister Rokybul Hussain called it a “catastrophe”.

The monsoon, which sweeps across the subcontinent from June to September, is crucial for India’s farmers but claims many casualties every year.

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, pictured below, toured the Assam region by helicopter last week to view the effects of the rains.

‘’The people of Assam are facing one of the worst floods in recent times that has inflicted considerable damage,’’ he said afterwards.

While India’s north-east has received too much rain, the monsoon has been late arriving in other parts of the country and casuing problems for farmers.

WASBIR HUSSAIN