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Swelling rivers flood Bihar

Patna, July 14: Raging rivers have inundated villages in north Bihar, claiming at least 12 lives and damaging crops and homes.

At least 1,000,000 people have been affected by the floods, according to government sources. Unofficial sources, however, put the toll at 21 and the number of those affected at 1,500,000.

Three deaths were reported from Darbhanga district last night, while one person died in Gopalgunje district, four blocks of which have been flooded since last night. At least 120 villages in Darbhanga — mostly residences of Dalits — have been submerged, forcing more than 10,000 people to take shelter in a high school.

More than 20 blocks in Darbhanga and Sitamarhi districts have been affected, with rivers such as the Burigandak and the Koshi in spate. The Koshi is flowing at 88 cm above the danger mark. Another river, the Bagmati, is flowing at 58 cm above the danger level.

In Madhubani district, where several small rivers such as the Kamla, the Buti and the Balan are in spate, cracks have developed in a number of places along the Maharaji embankment, according to district officials. At least 15 blocks in the district have been affected by the floods.

The Madhubani district administration said it is rushing relief to more than 40,000 people. “We have sent an SOS to the state administration today for more relief,” said Rajaram Sharma, an official involved in the relief work.

Paresh Nath, a relief officer in Sitamarhi district, said the administration is “trying to make an assessment of exactly how many people have been affected” and said “it would certainly cross 20,000”.

Torrential rain in the catchment areas posed a further threat, with the administration fearing that more parts of Gopalgunje and Siwan districts may be affected by the floods.

The state welfare, relief and rehabilitation department has alerted all the north Bihar districts and asked their disaster management units to gear up for relief operations. The department’s officers have also urged voluntary groups to assist in relief work.

Flood fury, which hits the region every year, had claimed 123 lives last year, according to state government sources.

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