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Bihar floods claim 42, IAF copters airdrop relief

August 25, 2008 18:13 IST

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With over 20 lakh people bearing the brunt of floods in 14 districts of Bihar, three Indian Air Force helicopters continued to drop relief materials in the worst hit Supaul, Araria and Madhepura for the fifth successive day on Monday as the turbulent waters of the Kosi submerged fresh areas in the three districts.

So far, 42 people have died in the flood in Bihar, official sources said.

Three IAF choppers airdropped relief materials in the flood-ravaged villages of Supaul, Araria and Madhepura districts where more than 12 lakh people were hit by the flood caused by the breach in the East Kosi afflux embankment in Nepal on August 18, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters.

The problem has been compounded by the fact that the river, named the 'Sorrow of Bihar', has changed its course due to the breach that widened to more than 2 km now, destroying standing crops and flattening houses coming in its way, he said.

Evacuating the people stranded on roads, embankments and other elevated places between the two streams of the river posed a major challenge to the flood fighting machinery of the state government.

The personnel of Sashastra Seema Bal, guarding the Indo-Nepal border, Special Auxiliary Police, comprising ex-servicemen raised primarily for counter-Naxalite operations, National Disaster Response Force and the state police were engaged in evacuating the marooned people to safe places, Principal Secretary Disaster Management Department R K Singh said.

According to official sources, the floods have so far claimed 42 lives with Muzaffarpur accounting for the largest number of 11 deaths, Madhepura (nine), Supaul (seven), Saharsa, Katihar and Sitamarhi (four each), Khagaria (two) and Nalanda (one).

Though the floods have hit the state's 14 districts -- Saharsa, Muzaffarpur, Katihar, West Champaran, Patna, Nalanda, Khagaria, Sheikhpura, Purnia, Saran, Begusarai, Supaul, Araria and Madhepura -- the last three were worst hit by the deluge, which the chief minister described as a "catastrophe."

Nitish Kumar had on Sunday transferred Sharif Alam and Garib Sahu, district magistrates of Supaul and Saharsa respectively for not proving equal to the task of providing succour to the people and replaced them with N Shravan Kumar and R Lakshmanan. He also shifted Supaul SP Shyam Kumar and appointed Shahrukh [Images] Majid in his place.

Additional Commissioner of Disaster Management Department Pratyay Amrit said over 60 relief camps were set up in Supaul, Araria and Madhepura alone.

Nearly 70,000 people have been evacuated to safer places with the help of more than 1,000 boats pressed into service by the government for relief and rescue efforts.

A total of 74 health centres and 20 cattle centres were functioning round-the-clock to help the people.

According to a Central Water Commission press release, the Kosi, Ganga, Ghaghra, Punpun and Burhi Gandak were flowing above the danger level at several places along their course.

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