Assam death toll touches 44

Updated 07 May 2014
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Assam death toll touches 44

NARAYANGURI: Indian police discovered six more bodies of women and children Wednesday after a “barbaric” rampage by tribal separatists targeting Muslims in northeast Assam, taking the total number killed to 44, officials said.
The bodies were found as authorities continued their search of two districts in the remote tea-growing state where masked gunmen last week shot dead Muslim villagers including babies as they slept.
Police have accused tribal Bodo rebels of killing the Muslims whose migrant community has been locked for years in land disputes with the indigenous group in the state that borders Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Local media have reported that Bodos attacked the Muslims as punishment for failing to vote for their candidate last month in the country’s mammoth, staggered election that is drawing to a close.
“So far the death toll is put at 43. The killings were indeed barbaric with even five-month-old baby not spared,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters from the worst-hit Narayanguri village.
“It is unfortunate that bodies are still being recovered and we have reports that 11 more people are missing,” Gogoi said.
A police spokesman traveling with Gogoi said the bodies of three children and two women were the latest found in the district of Baksa, about 210 km west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.
The death toll has climbed from at least 32 on Sunday after a series of bodies were discovered in recent days, while several people wounded in the carnage on May 1 and May 2 have also died in hospital.

Gogoi said some 15 children, aged eight months to 14, left orphaned by the bloodshed were being sent to a charity-run home in Guwahati.
Villagers broke down in tears as they recalled their terrifying ordeals, while others pleaded with officials traveling with the chief minister to help shift them to hospital for treatment.
“I saw my mother and father dying in front of me. I managed to save myself hiding under the bed as masked gunmen put bullets in my parents,” 14-year-old Habiba Nessa told AFP.
Security forces have launched a massive hunt for the Bodo guerrillas blamed for the violence which has forced several thousand people to flee their homes in fear, officials have said.
The violence came during the final stretch of the general election that has seen religious and ethnic tensions flare and which Hindu nationalist hard-liner Narendra Modi and his opposition party were expected to win.
Police blamed the attacks on the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been demanding a separate homeland for decades, but the group has denied it was behind the violence.
Seventeen people were killed in clashes in the same region in January.
In 2012, ethnic clashes in the same area claimed about 100 lives and displaced more than 400,000 people.


More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

Updated 24 April 2019
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More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

  • Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday
  • The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban

DURBAN: At least 60 people have been killed and more than 1,000 have fled their homes after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides along South Africa’s eastern coast, authorities said on Wednesday.
Most of the deaths were in KwaZulu-Natal province. Flooding also killed at least three people in neighboring Eastern Cape province, state broadcaster SABC said.
The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban. Multiple dwellings collapsed in mudslides, said Robert McKenzie, a KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesman.
Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday.
Victor da Silva, a resident of the coastal town of Amanzimtoti, said his family managed to evacuate before the floods destroyed their home and cars.
“On Monday, the water was just crazy. And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine, my garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn’t stop raining,” Da Silva said. “And then an hour and a half later, everything poof (vanished) because the rain just hasn’t stopped.
Authorities in southern Tanzania ordered evacuations of residents from low-lying areas and the closure of schools and offices ahead of landfall of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth on neighboring Mozambique’s coast on Thursday.
“We’ve decided to evacuate all residents of valleys and other low-lying areas and we advise them to seek refuge at public spaces,” Mtwara regional commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa, told reporters.
Johan Fourie said he fled his home in Amanzimtoti, Kwazulu-Natal, just before part of it collapsed.
“I nearly lost my life, and my neighbor, I believe, is in hospital,” Fourie told eNCA television.
The region had been hit by heavy rains for days, but authorities did not foresee the extent of the downpour late on Monday, said Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department.
“As a result, there was flooding and some structures were undermined and collapsed on people,” Mabaso said.
Some people were swept away by the water, he added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected communities in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday and was expected in the Eastern Cape in the next few days.
“This is partly what climate change is about, that it just hits when we least expect it,” he said.
Last week, 13 people were killed during an Easter service in KwaZulu-Natal when a church wall collapsed after days of heavy rains and strong winds.