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Army, Airforce continue rescue operations in Bihar

August 29, 2008 20:30 IST

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The army and airforce contingents continued to assist the state machinery in rescue and relief operations on Friday as the flood situation in Bihar remained grim, 12 days after the Kosi river breached its embankment affecting over two million people in Supaul, Madhepura, Arari and Saharsa districts.

Three Indian Air Force helicopters and two army columns equipped with motorboats, besides over 2000 personnel drawn from the National Disaster Response Force and various wings of the state police, were deployed in the four districts to evacuate the marooned, additional commissioner of the disaster management department, Pratyay Amrit said.

Two more army columns were on way and an equal number had been sought for deployment to further speed up the relief and rescue efforts, Amrit said adding one more IAF helicopter was likely to join operations from tomorrow.

Amrit said so far over 2.37 lakh people were shifted to relief camps and other shelters in these districts where 673 boats including 58 motorboats of the NDRF had been pressed into service.

A total of 925 boats lying idle in districts not affected by floods were being transported by trucks to the four districts and 337 of them already reached the affected areas. In all 146 relief camps, 73 health centres and 59 cattle camps were functioning in the four districts to provide succour to the victims, he said.

"Altogether 99,866 food packets had been distributed among victims including 24,380 that were airdropped, the Additional Commissioner said.

The government, Amrit said, had decided to include pouches containing clean drinking water in the foodpackets to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases.

Amrit said the disaster management department was in the process of despatching 20,000 bottles of mineral water and 1.5 lakh more will be made available soon.

Amrit said altogether 4,500 tents had been received from Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal and Assam Rifles for setting up mega relief camps at Saharsa and Purnia which would run for several months until the water recedes. These camps would become functional within two to three days.

The chief minister has convened a meeting of various NGOs on Saturday to seek their help in intesifying relief operations, he said.

Nearly 27 lakh people in Muzaffarpur, Katihar, West Champaran, Khagaria, Sheikhpura, Saran, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Vaishali, Patna, Nalanda, Purnia, Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura and Araria are hit by the floods with the last four bearing the major brunt of the deluge.

According to a Central Water Commission statement, the Kosi, Ganga, Burhi Gandak, Bagmati and Ghaghra were flowing above the danger level at several places.

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