Patna, Aug 15 (IANS) More than 6.5 million people have been affected by floods in Bihar, that have claimed the lives of over 40 people so far, washed away thousands of huts, badly damaged buildings, roads, bridges and standing crops worth crores, officials said on Tuesday.
Bihar disaster management department officials said that 65.37 lakh people in 889 panchayats under 84 blocks in 13 districts have been affected by the floods. "So far 41 people have died in the floods," officials said, but unconfirmed reports put death toll at 85.
Nearly three million people were affected alone in the worst-hit districts of Kishanganj, Araria, Purnea and Katihar in last three days. "Thousands were displaced due to floods," an official said.
According to them, about 1.82 lakh people have been evacuated to safe places by the rescue teams in the last two days.
The state administration says at least five more districts including Samastipur, Khagaria and Sheohar face the threat of floods. "Flood waters have entered in some new areas and are likely to create panic among people," officials said.
Other affected districts are Darbhanga, Madhubani, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul, East and West Champaran.
Reports reaching here suggest that thousands of people have been forced to flee from their homes after their villages were inundated. They have taken shelter in high rise areas, including national highways, schools and government buildings.
In view of the worsening flood situation, the state government has cancelled the leave of doctors and heath department officials in flood-hit districts.
The state disaster management department has asked people living in low lying areas to move to higher places as heavy rains continued.
"The flood situation in Bihar will continue to be grim following rising water levels of rivers and incessant rains," met department officials said.
Major rivers in the state including the Koshi, Mahananda, Gandak, Bagmati and Ganga are in spate and some rivers have breached their banks and embankments, officials said.
"With heavy rainfall in Bihar as well as in the catchment areas in Nepal, the water level of these rivers has been rising," an official told IANS.
The government has launched massive relief and rescue operations with help from the Army, Air Force as well as National Disaster Response Force and Bihar State Disaster Response Force teams.
"We have deployed four Army teams, 22 NDRF and 15 SDRF teams along with hundreds of our own officials in relief and rescue operations in flood-affected districts," Pratyaya Amrit, Principal Secretary in the Bihar Disaster Management Department, said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday sought the help of the Army and Indian Air Force in relief and rescue operations. He also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to provide all possible aid. Both have assured him of help.
Nitish Kumar, after an aerial survey of the four worst hit flooded districts on Monday, said he had told officials to speed up rescue and relief work. He again spoke with Modi and requested assistance.
Railway stations in Kishanganj, Katihar and Jogbani in Araria were flooded, leaving scores of passengers stranded. Eighteen trains have been cancelled since Sunday.
According to officials, crops worth crores were damaged and road links to several places have been snapped. Reports reaching here said flood waters had submerged NH 104 in Sitamarhi, NH 31 in Kishanganj and NH 327 in Araria.