The Heat Is Online

Monsoon Floods Indian state of Bihar

1 million cut off by monsoon floods in India


The Associated Press, Aug. 25, 2008


PATNA, India - Authorities struggled Monday to get aid to more than 1 million people stranded by floods in a north Indian state, with one local government leader describing the situation as a catastrophe.


Air force helicopters and troops were trying to get food to people in the stricken areas of Bihar state that were inundated by flood waters last week after torrential rains caused the Kosi river in neighboring Nepal to burst its banks.


The Bihar state government issued a plea to relief agencies to step in and help get food and shelter to the residents.


"It is not a normal flood, but a catastrophe," said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar after making an aerial survey of the ravaged districts.


Kumar said more than 1 million people were cut off from the rest of the country because the floods had washed away roads and made railway lines impassable.


India's monsoon season, which lasts from June to September, brings rain vital for the country's farmers but also massive destruction. Floods, mudslides, collapsing houses and lightning strikes kill hundreds of people every year.


This year's monsoon has killed more than 330 people in India so far. In 2007, monsoon floods killed more than 2,200 people across South Asia and left 31 million others homeless, short of food or with other problems. The United Nations called last year's floods the worst in living memory.


Officials said they were struggling to cope because the Kosi river changed its course after bursting its banks, flooding areas not usually affected by the seasonal monsoon.


"We are in for a long battle as the floods have come in areas which are not prone to it," said the state's Disaster Management Secretary Prataya Amrit. He said the areas lacked facilities and relief centers for dealing with floods.


Kumar said he had appealed to the Indian Embassy in Nepal to secure permission for India to send in workers and equipment to try to mend the breach in the river.


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This


Flood devastation in Bihar state, Aug. 25, 2008


Over a million people have been affected by floods in three districts of the northern Indian state of Bihar, officials say.


The banks of the Kosi river overflowed days after the part of the river in neighbouring Nepal breached an embankment there.

Bihar's districts of Supaul, Araria and Madhepura which border Nepal are the worst affected.


Floods in South Asia are common. About 28m people were affected last year.


Supplies by air


Officials say that crops on tens of thousands of hectares of land have been damaged by the Bihar floods.


Over 50 relief camps have been opened in the three affected districts, and Indian air force helicopters are dropping food packets in the area.


People in the area have taken refuge on embankments, highways, and buildings to escape the flood waters.


Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has described the floods as a "catastrophe".


Over 170 country boats have been pressed into service to rescue stranded people, and reach relief supplies.


However, the affected people say they have not been receiving any government help.


They chased away three senior legislators who had arrived in the area to meet flood victims during the weekend.


"All the relief material is being siphoned off by government officials," alleged farmer Kameshwar Prasad, who has taken shelter in a school in Supaul district.