updated 7/6/2009 11:06:14 AM ET 2009-07-06T15:06:14

Flood waters have inundated scores of villages in India's northeast, leaving nearly 500,000 people homeless, an official said Monday.

At least one person has died in the floods, a 55-year-old man who drowned when his boat capsized in Assam state, said Mantu Thakuria, a police officer. It was the first death reported in the state since the rains began last Wednesday.

Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced by the floods, which have affected 10 of the state's 27 districts, Assam's Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman told The Associated Press. They include nearly 100,000 people marooned on Majuli island in the Brahmaputra River.

On Sunday, the overflowing river washed away five villages, forcing nearly 4,000 residents to flee to makeshift relief camps, said Barman. The area is nearly 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam.

Last week, the Brahmaputra breached a 328-foot (100-meter) stretch of a newly built embankment. At least 300 villages in Lakhimpur district, about 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Gauhati, have been inundated.

The monsoon rains usually hit India from June to September. Assam, a state of 26 million people, suffers flooding almost every year. Last year, millions of people were forced to temporarily abandon their homes.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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