Eight countries, including the United States, China and Russia, have shared satellite data with India on the country’s flood-hit regions to assist rescue and relief operations, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday. As many as 198 people had died so far in floods in Bihar and Assam by Thursday, according to the state governments’ daily bulletins.
Earlier in the day, China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong had said that the country had provided satellite data after Indian Space Research Organisation’s request for international disaster relief support.
“Following ISRO’s request for international disaster relief support, China has provided India with satellite data on India’s flood-hit regions to assist its flood relief efforts,” Sun tweeted. “Hope all gets well soon.”
However, sharing of such data is a standard practice, and member space agencies of 33 countries that are part of the International Charter Space and Major Disasters can seek assistance from each other whenever there is a natural disaster, the ministry said. India’s National Remote Sensing Centre is among the 33 agencies.
The multilateral mechanism is aimed at sharing clear space-based data for countries hit by natural or man-made disasters. “The charter then seeks the information pertaining to the disaster-hit area available with all the 33 member space agencies,” said ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. The charter was activated on July 17 by the NRSC because of the heavy floods, he added.
“Under the charter, so far data has been received from eight countries, including USGS [United States Geological Survey], CNES [Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales], ESA [European Space Agency], ROSCOSMOS [Russian space agency], CNSA [Chinese National Space Agency] and three others,” he said.
In Assam, one person was killed on Thursday, pushing up the toll to 75. The release of excess water from Bhutan’s Kurichhu River has resulted in a rise in flood water level in the western districts of Barpeta, Nalbari, Baksa, Chirang, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and South Salmara.
In Bihar, no deaths were reported on Thursday and the toll remained at 123. However, flood water entered West Champaran, taking the total number of deluge-hit districts in the state to 13, PTI reported. The state has been receiving above-normal rainfall for the past couple of days. It was hit by floods earlier this month because of torrential rainfall in catchment areas of neighbouring Nepal.