The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal under water, cry for help rings loud

Oct. 23: With the rain proving relentless, the situation in submerged south Bengal districts worsened today and the toll went up to 13.

Seven fresh casualties were reported from East Midnapore alone. The situation in parts of North and South 24-Parganas, Hooghly and Howrah was described as 'critical' with several rivers ' the Keleghai, Kapaleshwari, Baghai and Chandia for example ' flowing above the danger mark.

Officials at Writers' Buildings said this afternoon Egra, Contai and Haldia of East Midnapore, Keshpur, Sabong Pingla, Narayangarh, Ghatal, Mohanpur and Kharagpur of West Midnapore, Pathar Pratima and Sandeshkhali of South 24-Parganas and Bagda, Minakhan and Bongaon of North were some of the worst-aff-ected areas.

Bhaku Ghorai, 35, died today after a wall collapsed in Khejuri, East Midnapore. Rajabala, 70, whose paddy on two-and-a-half bighas was destroyed by the rain, died of a heart attack.

In Ramnagar block, Kartik Jana, 50, also died of a heart attack. A district official said he, too, could not bear the havoc rain played on his property.

At Bolpur in Birbhum, 15- year-old Parvati Maddi died while her brother Dibakar, 8, was seriously injured when a wall of their mud house gave way.

'Everything is over. We haven't had anything to eat for three days,' said Lakshmi Patra, 60, of Bhavanichak village in Egra. Sheikh Samsher of Bagmari in Patashpur has been marooned for the past three days. 'We have no water to drink. Relief hasn't reached us,' he said.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is in Kanpur for a party programme, called relief minister Hafiz Alam Sairani and sought a situation report. The chief minister will visit the flooded areas of East Midnapore on October 28.

District officials dubbed the deluge worse than the one in 1978. The CPM zilla parishad chief, Niranjan Shee, said over 65,000 people have yet to get relief materials.

Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra visited some of the affected areas and met district officials. 'I have asked the administration to see to it that relief reaches the flood-hit people. We are thinking about alternative crops in places where standing crops were destroyed,' he added.

About 22 lakh people have been hit by the flooding in south Bengal. About 19 lakh of them belong to the two Midnapores. Around 1.25 lakh people are now housed in some 1,200 camps.

Sairani and irrigation minister Biswanath Chowdhury today reviewed the situation at a meeting with their departmental officials.

'East Midnapore is the most affected as water from adjoining districts flows to the sea through this district. If the situation worsens, we will seek assistance from the Centre,' Sairani said.

In Hooghly, fresh areas at Khanakul and Goghat were inundated as the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) released water. Officials said the Mundeshwari, Damodar and the Darakeshwar are in spate.

In four days, Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas has received a maximum rainfall of 581 mm, while Amgachhia and Sabong in West Midnapore have got 512 and 412 mm of rain.

About 150 migratory birds have died in Nadia in the past two days, forest officials there said today. The birds had just arrived at Kuchiadanga village in Karimpur, on the bank of the Jalangi river, about 190 km from Calcutta.

'Feathers and wings of the dead birds will be sent to Cal- cutta for tests to identify their species and the cause of the deaths,' said Sourendra Pal, the divisional forest officer of Nadia and Murshidabad.

In Burdwan, standing aman crops on 4.36 lakh hectares are under water for the past six days.

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