In India flooding in West Bengal is still causing acute hardship for millions of people marooned in agricultural areas.
In India flooding in West Bengal is still causing acute hardship for millions of people marooned in agricultural areas. Many have lost their homes, their livelihoods and virtually all contact with the outside world. West Bengal State government officials say the overall number of deaths could exceed 2,000 during the first two-weeks of the emergency.
SYNOPSIS: Rain in the catchment areas of three rivers has created critical conditions, filling dams to bursting point. Road conditions improved slightly in some areas and efforts were made to re-establish links with the isolated districts. Helicopters were able to land in some areas for the first time in weeks.
The army continues to be actively involved in a relief operation helped by volunteers from charity organisations. They took supplies of bread, chapati, dry rice, mile powder and molasses. In some districts, the water was receding, but in others, state officials said, the situation was still grave. Almost seven hundred people are confirmed dead, many of them from disease.
More than tow million people in West Bengal are homeless, with damage estimated to close to two billion dollars. The state government has asked for a loan of 500 million rupees (62 million dollars) to begin rebuilding homes. West Bengal has called for supplies of vaccines and drugs including 20 million doses of cholera and typhoid vaccines. Deaths as a result of gastroenteritis have been reported.
These people received four boat loads of supplies. They had been almost without food for a week. Stocks of food have been destroyed and damage to crops means food shortages will last for months. Hungry children ate where they stood in the floodwaters. Epidemics threaten, but the first priority is given to feeding the victims of the floods.