Guwahati: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi today made an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas in Assam.
66 people have lost their lives and nearly 20 lakh have been displaced in the flood, the worst in the state in more than a decade. 16 persons have also been killed in the landslides caused by the heavy rain that lashed the state for four days. 11 are still missing.
The Prime Minister and Mrs Gandhi had arrived at the Rowriah airport in Jorhat by a special flight at around 11 am. The duo, alongwith Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, then conducted an aerial survey of Majuli island, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts, which are among the worst affected in the floods.
They are also expected to survey the Kaziranga National Park, which has been completely submerged by flood waters.
Later in the day, they will fly to the state capital Guwahati and hold talks with ministers and senior state government officials, before returning to New Delhi.
Even though the rain has stopped and the water level in rivers has largely started receding, the Brahmaputra and the Kapili rivers are still flowing above the danger level at some places.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been deployed in 16 areas and rescue operations are on in nine districts. Seven teams of army personnel have been deployed in Barpeta, Dhemaji, Dima-Hasao, Sibsagar, Sonitpur and Tinsukia districts. 24 sorties have been carried out by helicopters of the Indian Air Force and 4,000 kg of food packets have been dropped in the flood-affected regions.
The PM has already announced an ex-gratia of Rs one lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the kin of each of those killed in the floods and has directed the Defence Ministry to provide Army assistance in rescue and relief.
Dr Singh had called up the state's Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on June 28 to enquire about the situation in the state.
The Prime Minister has assured the Assam government of all help to deal with the flood situation there. He has already also spoken to Defence Minister AK Antony "urging full Army assistance for the rescue and relief operations in the affected areas".