Following the most severe flooding in India for nearly a century, relief workers in West Bengal are now trying to avert the threat of epidemics and starvation.
Following the most severe flooding in India for nearly a century, relief workers in West Bengal are now trying to avert the threat of epidemics and starvation. A huge anti-malaria campaign is underway -- but at least 14 people in West Bengal have died from gastro-enteritis and it is this disease, along with cholera, that is potentially the most dangerous.
SYNOPSIS: In the Midnapur district the floodwaters are under control, but about 1.5 million people have been affected, and many now have no means of earning their living. Disease also threatens their survival -- but the West Bengal government is putting itself heavily into debt to provide medical supplies and assistance.
Health teams are hoping to immunise as many people as possible and mass inoculations. have begun in many regions. International aid to the tune of 56 million U.S. dollars has already been donated for relief work, with another 14 million dollars earmarked for short-term loans to the flood-affected area -- which stretches across northern India from Delhi to Calcutta.
Two international relief organisations have played a major role in bringing food and medicines to the flood victims. Gruel kitchens have been opened, and cooked food distributed to the hundreds of hungry people. But Indian Air Force helicopters have now stopped airlifting, and supplies are being sent in by road. In Calcutta, communist Party supporters staged a mass rally on Thursday (14 September) demanding that flood relief should be kept out of politics. The flooding gas also affected neighbouring Bangladesh, where more than 200 villages have been inundated.