20 people die as two boats capsize in Bihar floods (Lead)August 30th, 2008 - 12:44 am ICT by IANS
Saharsa (Bihar), Aug 29 (IANS) Over 20 people were killed when two army boats ferrying people stranded by the flooded Kosi river capsized in the turbulent waters Friday in Bihar’s Madhepura district, an official said. Madhepura Superintendent of Police O.N. Bhaskar said the accident occurred when two army boats capsized near Murliganj block in Madhepura due to the strong current of the Kosi river.
He said the two boats were carrying over 50 people after rescuing them from a marooned village. “The army managed to rescue 30 people,” he said.
Hundreds of villages remain under water and thousands of people have been displaced by the floodwaters in Madhepura, one of the four worst hit districts in the Kosi region bordering Nepal.
The flood situation continues to be grave and people are fleeing to safer places, official sources said Friday evening. “So far 250,000 people have been evacuated to safe places and the government is running 150 relief camps,” he said.
In the worst flooded districts of Madhepura, Saharsa and Supaul, the surging floodwaters created panic among people who have taken shelter on rooftops, railway tracks and canal embankments.
Twelve days after floods hit Bihar, the official death toll is just 12. The state Disaster Management Cell has confirmed only 12 deaths due to floods with eight from Madhepura and four from Saharsa, two of the four worst hit districts. The other two are Supaul and Araria.
However, unconfirmed reports said at least 60 people have died in the floods.
Prataya Amrit, additional disaster management secretary, said that over 2.5 million people in 765 villages in 14 districts were affected by floods. Over 300,000 cattle head were also affected.