Houses robbed, evacuees looted in flooded Bihar

September 1st, 2008 - 4:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Sep 1 (IANS) Criminals and anti-social elements are looting abandoned houses and robbing hapless evacuees at gun point in flood-affected Bihar as the surging waters have flushed hundreds of thousands of people out of the safety of their homes, say officials.Dozens of robberies have been reported from Madhepura, Supaul and Saharsa - the districts that are the worst-affected by the floods triggered by Kosi river two weeks ago that have claimed 35 lives and affected over two million people.

“Valuables have been looted from the houses of flood victims in the last two to three days by criminals and anti-social elements in small towns and villages,” a police source said here.

“No less than two dozen cases of loot and robbery have been reported in Madhepura town and smaller places like Udakishanganj, Murliganj, Bihariganj in the Madhepura district in the last four days,” a district official said.

Similar cases have been reported towns in Supaul and Saharsa. Besides, even boatmen have looted flood victims in the name of rescuing them, say police.

Thousands of people have fled their homes, taking only the bare essentials with them and leaving behind everything else.

Many who have taken shelter in relief camps at Saharsa, Patna, Purnea and Katihar fear that anti-social elements will loot their houses. Some unconfirmed reports of molestation of women have also come in from flood hit areas.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has warned of stern action against those found robbing people in flood-affected areas.

An official of the state disaster management department said Sunday that nearly 467,000 marooned people have been evacuated and over 150,000 people have taken shelter in 172 relief camps.

The waters of the Kosi river continue to inundate more areas as hundreds of villages remain under water. “The water level in the flooded areas rose by two to three feet in several places as the river inundated new areas in Saharsa, Supaul, Araria and Madhepura and Purnea - the worst-hit districts in the last 24 hours,” said another official.

According to officials, over 2.5 million people have been affected by the floods in 1,598 villages spread over 15 districts.

The Kosi river, sometimes called the “Sorrow of Bihar”, changed course after almost two centuries following a breach in an embankment upstream in Nepal.

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