Patna: More than 300,000 flood victims have taken refuge in government-run relief camps as their homes remained under water more than three weeks after a monsoon-swollen river flooded Bihar’s vast plains, officials said on Thursday.
Most residents in the five worst-affected districts of the state initially refused to abandon their homes despite pleas by authorities to evacuate, said state disaster management official Prataya Amrit. “They now find the relief camps to be the best place to be in,” Amrit said.
The number of flood victims has gone up to 315,000 in the 324 state-run relief camps with the arrival of another 31,000 people in the past two days, Amrit said.
Authorities have confirmed 42 deaths, but it is widely believed the final toll from the floods will be much higher.
The Kosi river has flooded nearly 1,000 villages in Bihar and 370,650 acres of farmland since 18 August when it burst an embankment.
On Wednesday, the state government ordered a probe following accusations that the devastation in the impoverished state was caused by poor maintenance of embankments on the Kosi river.
Hundreds of people in the camps are suffering from pneumonia, diarrhoea and high fever, but doctors have been able to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic of waterborne diseases through immunization drives, according to Deepak Kumar, the state’s health secretary.
Kumar said there are 432 doctors and an additional 400 paramedics running 179 health camps in Bihar’s five worst-hit districts.
The relief camps would run for another six months because repairing damaged embankments, homes, highways and village roads will take at least that long, Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar had said earlier this week.