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Thousands homeless in Bihar due to floods
Published on 2 Aug. 2009 11:24 PM IST
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Thousands of people have been rendered homeless in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district after the Bagmati river breached its embankment, flooding nearly 200 villages. Those stranded in villages are living under the open skies without food and drinking water, waiting to be rescued. “We are hungry and our children are crying for food and milk, but nothing has been provided by the government though it is over 24 hours since the Bagmati river breached its embankment,” Narayain Singh, one of the thousands of villagers taking shelter on embankments, informed via his mobile phone, which he fears might run out of charge soon. “Till now, we have not been given any relief. We are without food and water,” said Shyam Singh, another villager. The swollen river breached over a 100-feet stretch of the embankment at Tilaktajpur under Runnisaidpur block in Sitamarhi on Saturday, inundating several villages and affecting over 100,000 people. More villages are likely to be flooded, a district official said. According to officials, a team of the National Disaster Response Force began rescue operations Sunday morning. They had reached Saturday night but couldn’t begin rescue work in the dark. At least half a dozen people were feared drowned but district officials confirmed that only a woman had been killed. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is likely to visit the breach site and take stock of the situation later on Sunday. Till Friday, the district administration and engineers had claimed that there was no threat to the embankment from the rising level of water in the Bagmati river. According to official sources, the embankment was repaired and strengthened last year. However, villagers claim they had informed officials about a six-inch wide hole in the embankment. But no move was initiated to repair it. Nitish Kumar has ordered a probe and promised stern action against erring officials. Dozens of villages in Aurai and Katra blocks of Muzaffarpur district were also flooded after the Bagmati breached its embankment at three places Saturday. It was reported that several villages in Darbhanga district were also flooded. Major rivers in north Bihar, especially the Kosi, Gandak, Budhi and Bagmati are in spate following heavy rains in their catchment areas. With heavy rainfall recorded in the catchments areas in neighbouring Nepal, the water levels of these rivers have been rising to dangerous levels for the last four to five days. “The Bagmati has crossed the danger mark at some points and the water level in Gandak has also increased following water discharge into the river from Nepal,” an official of the Central Water Commission said. The fear of a repeat of last year’s devastating floods is haunting thousands of people in the region through which the Kosi river flows. More than three million people were rendered homeless when the river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course August 2008, flooding large tracts of land.

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