Bihar villagers remain desperate as flood threat spread

August 30th, 2008 - 11:34 am ICT by ANI  

Patraghat (Bihar), Aug 30 (ANI): Thousands of people, some with all their belongings on their heads, walked away from their flooded homes through narrow and submerged roads in Bihar on Friday.
Many children rode on their cows and buffaloes.
Bimlesh Yadav, a villager, who left his home along with his wife and two small children, said they had lost all their life savings in these floods, the worst in the past 50 years.
“We are going to Seharsa town. We have lost everything. All our belongings have submerged in the floodwaters. We are leaving to save our children,” Yadav said.
Helpless villagers have grabbed boats, planks or have taken refuge on rooftops to save themselves from floods.
Some set their cattle loose before fleeing as the animals had gone without food for days. Villagers were eating uncooked rice and flour mixed with polluted water in many places.
More than two million people in distant villages in Bihar have been displaced and around a quarter of a million houses have been destroyed.
Diseases like diarrhoea were reported from many government-run camps in the state, which agencies like the UNICEF say was still far below the required standards.
“There are clearly going to be serious challenges of providing clean water, ensuring that there are no waterborne diseases. Sanitation needs are taken care of and no epidemic breaks out,” said Mukesh Puri, from UNICEF.
The Kosi river burst a dam in Nepal earlier this month and surged into Bihar, swamping village after village as authorities failed to evacuate millions on time.
At least ten more people drowned overnight, raising the toll to 65, as the rising river waters smashed embankments and flooded vast areas in the eastern state.
Water levels continued to rise amid heavy rains. The water could stay for around three months, increasing the risk of waterborne diseases.
Surging waters have swamped 100,000 hectare of farmlands, destroying wheat and paddy crops worth millions of rupees.
Some experts blame the floods on heavier monsoon rains caused by global warming, while others say authorities have failed to take preventive measures and improve infrastructure.
Officials said bad weather and strong currents were preventing them from providing aid to remote areas. (ANI)

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