India

Cyclone-hit Assam seeks modern weather equipment

GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) - A senior Indian meteorologist called on Friday for modern forecasting equipment in the northeast after a devastating cyclone killed 38 people and left more than 3,000 homeless in the region.

D. Sinha, director of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Assam, told Reuters the weather office failed to detect the thunderstorm in Dhubri district because of a lack of weather watchtowers.

"The region needs more observatories with sophisticated equipment to receive images from satellites automatically round the clock," said Sinha.

"At the moment, we are totally dependent on previous records of rainfall and other related conditions. And then we draw our own conclusions."

The northeast has 15 weather observatories, but most of them use outdated weather observation methods based on rainfall and the direction of the wind.

Around 2,500 people were wounded in the storm that lashed Assam on Tuesday night, leaving a trail of destruction in a dozen villages, uprooting trees, flattening houses and killing cattle.

Rescue workers are searching vast paddy fields and bamboo groves for hundreds of people, mostly children, still missing after the storm.

"Chances of finding more bodies are remote because those thrown into fast flowing rivers by strong winds have been washed away," Rup Jyoi Dutta, a local police officer, told Reuters.

More than 100 people were killed in Assam last year and thousands displaced when heavy monsoon rains flooded rivers.

(Reporting by Biswajyoti Das, Editing by Sugita Katyal; Reuters Messaging: sugita.katyal.reuters.com@reuters.net; +91-361-252-9861)

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