| A village in Ghatal, West Midnapore. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
July 9: The receding floodwaters on the bank of the Subarnarekha left behind 12 rotted bodies at Danton in West Midnapore today.
Villagers saw them stuck in the mud and raised the alarm.
Among the 12 were the bodies of a woman and a child.
“Neither has there been a boat mishap in the area nor have so many people gone missing together. We think the bodies have floated down the river,” said Kalipada Mondal, the block development officer of Danton, about 170km from Calcutta.
The 470-km river rises from the Chhotanagpur plateau, flows through Jharkhand and enters Bengal before emptying into the Bay of Bengal in Balasore, Orissa.
Chief secretary A.K. Deb said in Calcutta the government was yet to ascertain whether the deaths were flood-related or whether the dead hailed from neighbouring Orissa. “The district administration has been asked to find out their identities.”
Four flood-related deaths were confirmed in East Midnapore.
Afsar Ali, 18, of Panskura, died of snakebite. His younger brother Aftar had also died of snake poison yesterday.
Two-year-old Sona Pal was washed away by floodwaters in the same area.
Bejoy Bhunia, 60, drowned and a wall caved in on Khudiram Kuilya, 63, in Patashpur.
In Sabang, West Midnapore, Naren Patra, 40, was electrocuted while heading towards a relief camp in a raft.
The army continued its relief mission in Ghatal, Danton and Sabang. But there were many areas that it failed to reach.
Rakhi Sardar and her family of five are living on a tin roof of a brick-walled house at Srimantapur for the past four days.
Her three-year-old son could feed on breast milk, but Rakhi, 30, her husband Panchu, and their son and daughter — aged 8 and 9 — are without food.
Reports trickling in from Srimantapur and neighbouring Khasbar, Irpala and Atulnagar suggested that thousands of people marooned in the 200-odd hamlets in the area have neither been rescued nor received any relief since the flood took a turn for the worse on Thursday.
Panchayat officials expressed helplessness and blamed the “strong current of the floodwaters” for the absence of relief and rescue operations there.
“Ghatal was flooded on Thursday, when the Jhumi spilled its banks and its embankments were breached at two places. The water has to recede further for us to venture into some of its pockets, where many are now trapped,” said Ashish Banerjee, the vice-president of the Ghatal panchayat samiti.
Complaints about inadequate relief echoed across the two Midnapores. At Pingla in West, Forward Bloc supporters ransacked the BDO’s office demanding relief. In East, flood victims were crying for help in Egra, Patashpur and Ramnagar.
A breach in the embankment of the Chandia at Purushottampur yesterday has led to a rise in floodwaters at several places in in West Midnapore.