19 killed, 200,000 displaced in West Bengal floods (Lead)

June 20th, 2008 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 20 (IANS) The flood situation in West Bengal’s East and West Midnapore districts remained grim Friday with the death toll increasing to 19 and nearly 200,000 people in the two districts rendered homeless. “Nineteen people - fourteen from West and five from East Midnapore - died in the floods till Friday evening. Two people from East Midnapore are missing,” state police Inspector General (law and order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

Concerned over the flood situation, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee arrived in Kolkaghat in East Midnapore and held a high-level meeting with district officials to review the situation.

Later, the chief minister said fifteen blocks in East Midnapore including Patashpur, Bhagabanpur-I, Bhagabanpur-II and Egra and West Midnapore’s Sabong, Pingla and Narayangarh were still inundated rendering thousands homeless.

West Midnapore District Magistrate N.S. Nigam said Keleghai and Subarnarekha rivers were still flowing above the danger mark, though the water levels in both rivers have started to recede.

“Water has started receding from the flood-prone areas. If there are no more rains then the situation may improve,” said Nigam.

He said 200,000 people have been rescued and sheltered in 822 relief camps in the district.

Air force helicopters have dropped 11 tonnes of rice at Patashpur in East Midnapore and Narayangarh, Sabang and Belda of West Midnapore till Friday noon, a defence spokesman said.

Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said a total of Rs.170 million has been sanctioned as relief by the state government so far.

South Eastern railway officials said long distance trains from Kharagpur to Bhadrak in Orissa will take 10 days to resume.

“The Kharagpur to Bhadrak train line is damaged due to flood to an extent that it will take another 10 days to resume services. However four long distance trains - from West Bengal to Puri, Chennai, Bangalore and Secunderabad - will run via diverted routes,” a senior railway official said.

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