Thousands flee as Gandak breaches embankments (Lead)

September 16th, 2010 - 7:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Sep 16 (IANS) Thousands of people in Bihar’s Gopalganj district Thursday fled their homes fearing floods as the Gandak river breached its embankments, officials said.
Officials from the state disaster department said after the Gandak river breached its embankments that the fear of floods had created panic among villagers in Gopalganj, about 160 km northwest of Patna.

Earlier, Water Resources Department principal secretary Ajay Nayak told IANS over telephone that the situation was alarming and the breach “may take place anytime now as the crack has widened further”.

WRD engineer-in-chief R. Dayal, who is camping at the site, said that hundreds of labourers, machines and every other resource were being used to protect the embankments.

Officials said an evacuation drive was launched to shift people to safer areas. “More than one lakh people have been evacuated,” an official said.

Meanwhile, the state government rushed National Disaster Response Force teams to Gopalganj and instructed the officials to be ready with boats and other rescue and relief material like tents and polythene sheets.

Officials of the disaster department fear a repeat of the Kosi floods. “Hundreds of villages will be affected by the breach in the embankments in Gopalganj and neighbouring Saran and Siwan districts,” an official said.

In 2008, more than three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in Bihar in 50 years.

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