Best of our wild blogs: 28 Jul 16

Oil spill off Live Firing Islands, 26 Jul 2016
wild shores of singapore

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Very Large Ore Carrier Spills Fuel Off Singapore

The Maritime Executive 27 Jul 16;

On Tuesday morning, the very large ore carrier Berge Bureya spilled approximately one ton of heavy fuel oil into the Straits of Malacca off of Tanjung Piai, Malaysia, just west of Singapore.

The vessel's owner, Berge Bulk, confirmed the spill in a statement, and said that there were no injuries, no grounding and no involvement of third parties.

The firm said that "whilst in transit between Singapore and Brazil, a quantity of oil was identified leaking from the vessel and the crew immediately enacted emergency procedures to halt the leakage and to start a prompt clean-up operation. Berge Bulk Maritime is cooperating closely with the Malaysian authorities in the management of the spill and the vessel was boomed following the incident. The oil leak was stemmed quickly."

Officials with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency told local media that the spill had affected an area of approximately 20 nm, and that the vessel had been detained in accordance with the nation's environmental regulations.

As of Wednesday, the Bureya was at anchor off of Tanjung Piai.

The 300,000 dwt Bureya started life in 1993 as the oil tanker Seki. Berge bought her and converted her to a six-hold ore carrier in 2007. She carries up to 5,500 tons of fuel oil.

In 1994, as the tanker Seki, she was involved in a collision off of Fujairah in which her number one port wing tank was ruptured, spilling 16,000 tonnes of Iranian light crude.

Kapal Bawa Muatan HFO Bocor Di Perairan Tanjung Piai
Bernama 27 Jul 16;

JOHOR BAHARU, 27 Julai (Bernama) -- Sebuah kapal dagang asing yang membawa muatan minyak bahan bakar berat (HFO) mengalami kebocoran di perairan Tanjung Piai dekat sini, semalam.

Pengarah Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia (APMM) Johor Baharu, Kapten Maritim Aminuddin Abd Rashid berkata kebocoran pada bahagian kanan kapal itu menyebabkan kira-kira satu tan HFO tumpah di permukaan air.

Kapal itu yang dikenali sebagai Berge Bureya dan didaftarkan di United Kingdom pada asalnya membawa keseluruhan HFO 5,495 tan metrik, katanya dalam kenyataan di sini hari ini.

Aminuddin berkata kebocoran disedari ketika kapal itu dalam perjalanan dari Singapura ke Brazil melalui Selat Melaka.

"Selepas itu, kapal tersebut bersauh di kedudukan tiga batu nautika barat Tanjung Piai bagi memindahkan minyak ke tangki lain. Kerja pembersihan oleh syarikat kapal tersebut masih dijalankan sehingga kini sambil dibantu Jabatan Alam Sekitar, Jabatan Laut dan APMM," katanya.

Beliau berkata kapal berkenaan ditahan dan disiasat di bawah Akta Kualiti Alam Sekeliling 1974.


English translation from Google translate

Bring Cargo ship in the Sea of ​​HFO Leak Tanjung Piai

JOHOR BAHARU, July 27 (Bernama) - A foreign merchant ship laden with heavy fuel oil (HFO) leak in the waters off Tanjung Piai, near here, yesterday.

Director of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Johor Baharu, Captain Aminuddin Abd Rashid said the leak on the right side of the ship, causing about one ton of HFO spill on the water surface.

The ship was called Berge Bureya, registered in the United Kingdom was originally brought the whole HFO 5,495 tonnes, it said in a statement here today.

Aminuddin said the leak was discovered when the ship was en route from Singapore to Brazil through the Straits of Malacca.

"After that, the vessel is anchored in position three nautical miles west of Tanjung Piai to transfer the oil to another tank. The cleaning of the ship's company is still run until now and assisted the Department of Environment, Marine Department and MMEA," he said.

He said the vessel was detained and investigated under the Environmental Quality Act 1974.


Oil slick off Johor after ship springs leak
The Rakyat Post 27 Jul 16;

A foreign merchant ship laden with 5,495 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (HFO) sprung a leak in the waters off Tanjung Piai, near here, yesterday.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Johor Baru director Capt (Maritime) Aminuddin Abd Rashid said the leak on the right side of the ship caused about one tonne of HFO to spill into the sea.

Aminuddin said the incident was discovered when the British-registered ship, heading towards Brazil from Singapore, was passing through the Malacca Strait.

The ship then anchored three nautical miles west of Tanjung Piai to transfer the fuel to another tanker.

“Cleaning up work of the spillage is underway and the shipping company is being assisted by the Department of Environment, the Marine Department and MMEA.

“However, the ship has been detained and is being investigated under the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” he said in a statement, here today.

Ore carrier Berge Bureya spilled oil in Singapore Strait
SVILEN PETROV Maritime Herald 28 Jul 16;

Berge Bureya spilled oil and caused water pollution in Singapore Strait.

The accident happened during bunkering operations at anchorage in Tanjung Piai area, Malaysia. One of the transfer hoses broke, which caused spill of about one ton of heavy fuel and water pollution.

The transfer of the fuel was stopped immediately and the crew reported to the local authorities about the accident. The ore carrier was surrounded by oil booms to restrict expansion of the spot and enlarger of the pollution. The bulk carrier is cooperating with Malaysian authorities in cleansing operations.

The ore carrier Berge Bureya was en route from from Brazil to China, but probably stopped for bunkering at the Singapore Strait. The local authorities started investigation for the root cause of the accident and will determine who is responsible for environmental pollution.

The ore carrier Berge Bureya (IMO: 9036454) has overall length of 327.50 m, moulded beam of 58.00 m and maximum draft of 14.00 m. The vessel has deadweight of 293,239 DWT and gross tonnage of 155,823 GRT. The ore carrier Berge Bureya was built in 1993 by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in South Korea. The manager and operator of the vessel is Berge Bulk Norway.

Berge Bureya Incident
Berge Bulk website 27 Jul 16;

Berge Bulk Maritime confirms that an incident involving its operated VLOC (Very Large Ore Carrier) “BERGE BUREYA” – (IMO/LR # 9297539) took place off Malaysia in the Malacca Strait earlier yesterday morning (July 26, 2016).

There were no injuries to any crew-members and there was no grounding or involvement of any third parties.

Whilst in transit between Singapore and Brazil, a quantity of oil was identified leaking from the vessel and the crew immediately enacted emergency procedures to halt the leakage and to start a prompt clean-up operation.

A quantity of bunker fuel was spilled and Berge Bulk Maritime is cooperating closely with the Malaysian authorities in the management of the spill and the vessel was boomed following the incident. The oil leak was stemmed quickly.

The company has now launched an investigation into the causes of this incident.

As additional information becomes available a further update will be issued.

For media inquiries contact:
Navigate Response:
Ed Ion Singapore +65 9111 6871 / Dustin Eno London +44 207283 9915

Vessel detained for causing oil spill
The Star 1 Aug 16;

JOHOR BARU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detained a United Kingdom-registered vessel after leaked fuel was found near Tanjung Piai waters.

The vessel was on its way from Singapore to Brazil when the incident occurred on Tuesday on the western coastal areas of Johor, along the Malacca Straits.

Johor Baru Maritime director Capt Aminuddin Abd Rashid said the vessel was ferrying 5,495 metric tonnes of Heavy Fuel Oil from the island republic to the South American country when there was a leak on the right side of the ship.

“MMEA received a report from the Department of Environment (DOE) about the leakage, and one of our patrol boat was ordered to find and detain the vessel for further action.

“The vessel had anchored some three nautical miles west of Tanjung Piai when they found the leakage and was in the midst of transferring the oil to another vessel,” he said in a statement.

Aminuddin added that the leakage had caused the heavy fuel oil to spill into the sea, covering some 20 nautical miles area.

He also said that the vessel’s company was currently conducting cleaning work around the affected area.

MMEA will continue to monitor their cleaning process to make sure all the areas have been cleaned and prevent the oil from reaching the coastal area, causing more damage, he said.

Aminuddin also added that MMEA would continue to work closely with the Marine Department and DOE to monitor pollution in Malaysian waters.

He said the vessel has been detained to assist with investigations by the DOE under the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

Related link
Oil spill off Life Firing Islands, 26 Jul 2016 on wild shores of singapore

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Malaysia: More proof of shark hunting

The Star 28 Jul 16;

SEMPORNA: A group of tourists have caught on camera fresh evidence of shark hunting in waters here.

The photograph they took showed dead sharks laid out on a long boat with the tails of at least four hanging over the side.

The sighting comes just days after gory images of alleged shark finning activities in Pulau Mabul were circulated.

Having returned to their boat after a dive off the reef on Ribbon Valley on the south side of Mabul on July 22, the tourists from Sweden said they were disappointed because this was not something they had expected to see on their vacation.

Jonas Neander, who shared the photo with the Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA), said he was upset to see the boat zooming by with dead sharks, so close to the dive haven of Sipadan.

“I couldn’t believe it when we came up after the dive and saw the boat with the shark tails clearly hanging over the edge at noon.

“We had followed the online updates about the finning on Mabul – but to see it (dead sharks) with our own eyes was so disappointing, especially given the spectacular biodiversity of these waters which brings us back year after year,” said Neander, whose group comprised nine divers.

SSPA, in a statement yesterday, said it was deplorable that divers who visited Sabah, in particular the Semporna region, were witnessing the destruction of sharks.

“It is sad and unfortunate that tourists who are supporting the local economy by diving in Sabah are seeing dead sharks while on holiday.

They are here to appreciate what Sabah has to offer in terms of its biodiversity.

“We have an obligation to ensure that sharks remain in our waters, not just for the economic spin-off but also to ensure the health of the marine ecosystem in which sharks play a vital role as apex predators,” the association said.

Protecting sharks would benefit fishermen and the economy while also ensuring the future of Sabah’s diverse marine life, SSPA added.

The Sabah government is moving to create shark sanctuaries at all its six marine parks, including Semporna’s Tun Sakaran Marine Park, as conservation efforts while pressing for Federal laws to be enacted to ban shark hunting and finning.

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Malaysia: Wildlife Dept on buddhist release of pythons

Dept: Don’t release captive animals wildly
LO TERN CHERN The Star 27 Jul 16;

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Any organisation or individuals planning to release any animals into the wild should first consult the Wildlife Department.

Penang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Loo Kean Seong said it was not an offence to release animals back into the wild as long it was the native species but they should be consulted as the animals could have parasites which may spread to other healthy specimens.

Commenting on the act of a group of individuals who recently released 16 pythons at an oil palm plantation, he said his department was not aware of the matter as they were not informed.

“Although the release was done with good intention, it is not necessarily good for the animals as such a practice will create a demand for them and this will lead to more being captured.”

It was reported that villagers and trekkers in Sungai Lembu were unhappy following video clips and photos of a group of men releasing the pythons went viral on social media.

The plantation is located near a village of about 500 people and the area is frequented by trekkers and mountain bikers.

Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Azman Hussin said those releasing snakes should do it responsibly as the firemen were always called when snakes were found in private properties.

"Snakes can be dangerous and should only be handled by trained professionals.

"By releasing snakes into populated areas, the department has to waste its resource by catching the snakes which should not have been there in the first place,” he said.

One of the men who released the snakes denied that the reptiles were freed in Sungai Lembu and declined to reveal where it was done.

Wanting to be known only as Goey, he said the snakes were bought from a pet shop with donations from Buddhist devotees and released into the wild as an act of goodwill.

Sungai Lembu Community Development and Security Committee (JKKK) secretary Yeo Keng Chuan when contacted said the residents had not lodged any police reports over the matter but he hoped that people would be more responsible when releasing wild animals.

Snake video causing anxiety
LO TERN CHERN The Star 26 Jul 16;

BUKIT MERTAJAM: A village here has been rocked by the mystery of 16 pythons that seemed to have pulled a Houdini act.

It all began when a video clip and photographs went viral, showing a group of men releasing the snakes at a place that were said to be an oil palm plantation in Sungai Lembu on July 18.

A furore ensued from trekkers and residents who were concerned about their safety.

One of the men has now come forward, claiming that the snakes were not released in Sungai Lembu or anywhere else in Penang.

The man, who only wanted to be known as Goey, refused to say where the pythons were released.

“We wanted to keep quiet about the matter but for the past one week, people have been condemning our act, which was done in good faith,” he said.

They bought the snakes from a pet shop on July 16 and released them as an act of goodwill.

Goey said the money used to buy the snakes came from donations from Buddhists, some from as far as China.

“We only helped them fulfil their wish to buy animals in captivity and release them to their natural habitat,” he added.

However, the video clip, which showed the men opening some sacks and releasing the medium-sized snakes, had caused anxiety in Sungai Lembu, which is a 20-minute drive from Bukit Mertajam.

Retired car dealer Tang Ching Swee, 51, who is an avid hiker, said: “We have about 100 members who would trek on different trails in Sungai Lembu almost every day.”

“The trails connect to Cherok To’Kun Forest Reserve where hundreds of hikers go daily,” said Tang, who has been hiking for the past two decades.

Rubber estate worker Chin Tee Aun, 51, also shared his concerns about being in the estate.

“As rubber tappers, we would enter the area sometimes twice daily; in the morning and late evening. We have not encountered any pythons but now we are very wary of every step we take,” he said.

Another resident Tan Sing Lee, 56, said the 500 villagers were worried for the safety of their children.

Some of the villagers also helped orchard owners to collect fruits such as durians, he added.

Sungai Lembu JKKK secretary Yeo Keng Chuan said that voluntary firemen together with villagers searched four areas around the oil palm estate on Sunday but found nothing.

“We tried to trace the location based on the background seen in the video clip but we were not able to determine the exact spot.”

When contacted, central Sebe­rang Prai Buddhist Association chairman Tan Jee Peng explained that Buddhists believed in doing good by releasing animals especially birds, fish and tortoises, during festivals.

He said the snakes should not have been released in populated places.

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Indonesia: Marauding tigers make villagers anxious

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb The Jakarta Post 27 Jul 16;

People living in a hamlet in Pesisir Selatan regency, West Sumatra, which borders with the Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) are anxious these days. Not because they have been forced to leave their homes by a forest concessionaire or a mining company, nor because of an unresolved land dispute, but rather because of tigers.

In recent days, at least four adult Sumatran tigers have been roaming border areas between the forest and the villages. No tiger attacks have been reported, but the large cats have devoured four pet dogs.

“The tigers have been terrorizing residents for almost the past two months. Everyone is scared to go to their farm plots and rice fields. People’s livelihoods have been affected. So we want stakeholders to act in order to avoid the unexpected,” Koto Pulai Jorong hamlet chief Fauzi Anwar told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Fauzi said it was inevitable that someone would be attacked and so he hoped the local Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) or TNKS park rangers would catch and relocate the four tigers to the forest.

The tigers were first seen in early June, he said, and residents had come across tiger spoors several times, before finally seeing them on Tuesday morning.

He estimated that there were two pairs of tigers as they had been spotted in different locations about 1 kilometer apart. Each of the tigers is estimated to be up to 2 meters in length.

“The tigers often roam just 150 meters from settlements. At night, the large cats also enter the front yards of local houses and the small mosque, as can seen by their spoors,” he said.

Fauzi said that as his village bordered the TNKS, residents were used to seeing tigers in the forest. Tigers were not previously known to venture out of their natural habitat, which led the villagers to believe that the four tigers were facing problems.

“They often shadow people carrying food. They could be caught and released into the wild, but they would be unable to adapt or mix with other tigers in the national park. So they would eventually venture out of the forest again,” he said.

West Sumatra BKSDA Region 3 Conservation Section head Surajiya said he had deployed rangers to the scene on July 25 to work with TNKS rangers. “Our rangers have been collecting field information and just found obvious spoors, each 10.3 centimeters long and 9.1 cm wide, at a distance of around 500 meters from the TNKS,” he said.

Based on preliminary investigation, he said, the tigers left their habitat because of a lack of food resulting from rampant wild boar hunting.

“We have appealed to residents to not go to their fields alone and ignite bamboo cannons at night to drive away the tigers. Residents must not abuse the tigers because they are protected,” said Surajiya.

BKSDA has also received reports from residents in a village in South Solok regency, also bordering the TNKS, where tigers preyed on nine goats at the end of June. TNKS rangers have followed up on the reports.

Meanwhile, the death of a pair of six-month-old tiger cubs born in the Kinantan Wildlife and Cultural Park in Bukittinggi at the end of June is being invested by the West Sumatra BKSDA.

“We need one or two weeks to discuss the results of the investigation, because it involves a number of parties besides the BKSDA,” West Sumatra BKSDA Region I Section head Muhammad Zuhdi said on Tuesday.

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World's largest carbon producers face landmark human rights case

Filipino government body gives 47 ‘carbon majors’ 45 days to respond to allegations of human rights violations resulting from climate change
John Vidal The Guardian 27 Jul 16;

The world’s largest oil, coal, cement and mining companies have been given 45 days to respond to a complaint that their greenhouse gas emissions have violated the human rights of millions of people living in the Phillippines.

In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 “carbon majors” including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people’s fundamental rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination”.

The move is the first step in what is expected to be an official investigation of the companies by the CHR, and the first of its kind in the world to be launched by a government body.

The complaint argues that the 47 companies should be held accountable for the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions in the Philippines and demands that they explain how human rights violations resulting from climate change will be “eliminated, remedied and prevented”.

It calls for an official investigation into the human rights implications of climate change and ocean acidification and whether the investor-owned “carbon majors” are in breach of their responsibilities.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change.

Four of its most devastating super-cyclones have occurred in the last decade, and the country has recorded increasingly severe floods and heatwaves that have been linked to man-made global warming.

Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, killing more than 6,000 people and displacing 650,000 others in 2013.

The legal complaint has been brought by typhoon survivors and non-governmental organisations and is supported by more than 31,000 Filipinos.

“We demand justice. Climate change has taken our homes and our loved ones. These powerful corporations must be called to account for the impact of their business activities,” said Elma Reyes from Alabat Island in Quezon, who survived super typhoon Rammasun in 2008 and is part of the group submitting the complaint to the CHR.

The full legal investigation is now expected to start in October after the 47 companies have responded. Although all 47 will be ordered to attend public hearings, the CHR can only force those 10 with offices in the Philippines to appear.

These include Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Lafarge, Holcim, and Taiheiyo Cement Corporation. The CHR has the power to seek the assistance of the UN to encourage any which do not attend to co-operate.

“The commission’s actions are unprecedented. For the first time, a national human rights body is officially taking steps to address the impacts of climate change on human rights and the responsibility of private actors,” said Zelda Soriano, legal and political adviser for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, one of the groups which has brought the complaint to the CHR.

“This is an important building block in establishing the moral and legal ‘precedent’ that big polluters can be held responsible for current and threatened human rights infringements resulting from fossil fuel products. From the Netherlands to the US, people are using legal systems to hold their governments to account and demand climate action,” she said.

The list of the 47 “carbon majors” being asked to respond to the CHR is based on research by Richard Heede, director of the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado. In 2013 he calculated that just 90 global companies had produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the start of the industrial revolution.

Together these companies emitted around 315 gigatons of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere, or nearly 22% of estimated global industry greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 to 2013, said Heede.

“We pray that the CHR heed the demand to recommend to policymakers and legislators to develop and adopt effective accountability mechanisms that victims of climate change can easily access,” said Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines and a recipient of the Goldman environmental prize.

The CHR is not a court and would have no power to force companies to reduce emissions or fine them. However, it can make recommendations to government and would add to the worldwide pressure to persuade shareholders to divest from heavy carbon emitters.

The investigation is the latest in a growing tide of climate liability cases being brought against governments and corporations. In June, the Netherlands’ high court ruled on the world’s first climate liability suit, ordering the Dutch government to take stronger action against climate change to better protect its citizens.

However, several court cases launched in the US urging the US government to take more action against climate change have been dismissed.

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Indonesia: Country to tap into rich blue carbon potential

Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 27 Jul 16;

The nation is set to take advantage of its blue carbon potential, estimated to be huge, as the country’s seagrass and mangroves account for 17 percent of the world’s blue carbon reserves.

Blue carbon is the carbon captured by the world’s oceans and coastal ecosystems. Mangroves and seagrass bind carbon dioxide and water, and, with the assistance of sunlight, is converted into sugars and oxygen to support their growth. The excess production of the plant is buried in the sediment, where it can remain stored.

As an archipelagic country located along the equator at the heart of the Coral Triangle, Indonesia is blessed with rich coastal ecosystems. Its warm climate makes it a suitable habitat for mangroves and seagrass.

According to Conservation International (CI) Indonesia, these coastal ecosystems could capture much more carbon than terrestrial ecosystems, such as rainforests, making it more valuable in mitigating the impact of climate change. For instance, a hectare of mangrove in Papua has the ability to absorb 2,500 tons of CO2 per year, more than a virgin forest in Java can capture.

“That amount of carbon is the same amount of carbon emitted by 20 luxury cars in Jakarta for 25 years,” CI Indonesia marine program director Victor Nikijuluw said.

It is also an equivalent of 296,050 gallons of gasoline or 2.8 million pounds of coal.

CI Indonesia is developing the blue carbon potential of the Kaimana regency in West Papua, focusing on the conservation of 50,000 hectares of its mangrove ecosystem.

“If we protect the mangrove ecosystem there, we could absorb the emissions of 1 million cars [for the next 25 years]. So the emissions of 1 million cars can be neutralized by mangrove in one regency,” said Victor.

Seagrass meadows also have tremendous blue carbon potential. Although they only take up a small percentage of global coastal area (about less than 0.2 percent of the world’s oceans), they are responsible for more than 10 percent of all carbon buried annually in the sea.

This high carbon storage suggests mangroves and seagrass meadows could play an important role in climate change mitigation. They could also be monetized through the carbon trading market.

Under carbon trading, countries that have more carbon emissions are able to purchase the right to emit more carbon into the atmosphere from countries with less emissions.

While Indonesia is home to rich coastal ecosystems, its blue-carbon ecosystems are also among the world’s most threatened. In the past 30 years, Indonesia lost 40 percent of its mangrove coverage.

About 3 to 7 percent of ecosystems are disappearing every year, with the worst conditions found on the northern coast of Java. The main reasons are dredging, degradation of water quality, deforestation and aquaculture activities.

With such high potential despite the rapid degradation, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is looking to develop the country’s blue carbon.

“We are still in the early stages of research. But we are moving toward that and it’s a coincidence that CI Indonesia has initiated a blue carbon project [in Kaimana],” the ministry’s conservation area management director, Andi Rusandi, said.

“In the next few years, we could start tapping into the blue carbon potential of the country,” he added.

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Floods ravage northeast Indian state, kill 58 in Nepal

Channel NewsAsia 27 Jul 16;

GUWAHATI, India/KATHMANDU: Severe floods in India have affected more than 1.6 million people, buried hundreds of villages and almost submerged a national park, forcing wildlife to seek refuge on roads, authorities said on Wednesday.

With the weather office forecasting heavy rain for at least another 48 hours, the outlook is grim for the northeastern tea-growing state of Assam, which suffered its worst floods four years ago that killed 124 people and displaced six million.

In neighbouring Nepal, flash floods and landslides swept through villages, killing at least 58 people over two days, home ministry official Yadav Koirala told Reuters on Wednesday.

Floods and landslides are common in India and Nepal during the June-September monsoon season and the death toll runs into the hundreds every year.

"The situation has turned from bad to worse since Tuesday and over a million people have been shifted to relief camps," Assam's water resources minister Keshab Mahanta said.

The Brahmaputra river and its tributaries have burst their banks - affecting more than half of the region's 32 districts.

Police and rescue workers said at least 12 people had drowned across the state of Assam in recent days.

Animals from the state's national parks came out onto roads built up on banks and other high ground as the flood inundated forests.

The state has five national parks, including the Kaziranga National Park, which is home to two-thirds of the world's one-horned rhinoceroses.

"More than 80 percent of the park is under water," said Suvasis Das, a forestry official in the park.

Forest officials said they have rescued a 3-month-old rhino that took shelter in a backyard in a village. At least 20 hog deer were either washed away or drowned.

Assam's Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal urged authorities to provide safe drinking water to prevent the outbreak of disease.

(Reporting by Biswajyoti Das and Gopal Sharma; Writing by Malini Menon; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Robert Birsel)

- Reuters

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