Hundreds of villages flooded in Bihar as rivers rise

Patna, July 11 (IANS) Flood waters entered over 100 villages in Bihar in the past 24 hours, forcing people to abandon their homes, as many rivers in the state rose and posed a threat to other villages too, officials said Thursday.

All the inundated villages are in the flood-prone districts of Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj, Muzaffarpur and Katihar.

"Flood waters entered more than 100 villages of Amaur block in Purnea, Forbesganj and Sikti in Araria and Kochadham in Kishanganj. In Muzaffarpur, dozens of villages were inundated in Aurai and Katra blocks," an official of the state disaster management department said.

The department officials told IANS that fear of floods is gripping villages again in Bihar, with water levels rising in several rivers following heavy rain in the state and in the catchment areas in neighbouring Nepal.

"Water levels in the Mahananda, Bagmati, Kamla Balan, Gandak, Bodhi Gandak and Kosi rivers are showing rising trend over the past two days, threatening hundreds of villages in over half a dozen districts," the official said.

An unconfirmed report said that at least eight people, including three schoolgirls, have drowned in the flood water.

The Bihar government has alerted engineers and asked them to keep a 24-hour vigil in the area.

"All engineers have been directed to be ready with necessary equipment and boulders to face any situation and to protect the embankments," Rajeshwar Dayal, engineer-in-chief (north)at the water resources department, said.

However, Bihar Water Resources Development Minister Vijay Kumar said all embankments were safe, and there was no need to panic.

He said the eastern Kosi embankment, which had breached in 2008 flooding five districts of northern Bihar, was totally safe.

"The embankment was strengthened and breach repair work was completed," he said.

In 2008, more than three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course.

It was said to be the worst flood in Bihar in the last 50 years.

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