Five killed and 1.6 million affected in Bengal flood

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Kolkata, Jan 18 (UNI) At least five people were killed and 1.6 million people affected in a devastating flood, while troops today started rescuing the victims in East and West Midnapore districts.

Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta told reporters that Indian Airforce helicopters had been pressed into service to drop dry food and two columns of Army deployed to evacuate lakhs of stranded people at Narayangarh, Sabong and Pingla after heavy rains for the past three days and swelling river waters flooded vast areas of West Midnapur.

He said besides those killed, three persons remained missing.

'' Altogether 53,000 people are still marooned while 40,000 have already been sheltered in relief camps. The Government has sent 53 tons of rice and sanctioned Rs.2.5 crore for relief work, '' he said.

Dr Dasgupta said besides those killed, three persons remained missing.

While the two districts received a record of 900 mm rainfall over the past three days, the situation worsened by heavy discharge of water from reservoirs in the adjoining Jharkhand, the Minister said.

Train services under South Eastern Railway remained cripled since yesterday after tracks at Kharagpur and Kanthi went under water, forcing the authorities to cancel several south and west-bound trains.

An SER communique said 15 long distance trains from Howrah station were cancelled, five long distance trains were short terminated in different stations and four long distance trains were runing on diverted route since yesterday.

The 2315 UP Sealdah-Udaipur Ananya Express, scheduled to leave Sealdah tomorrow will remain cancelled due to rake problem in North Western Railway system.

The 2821/2822 Dhauli Express, 2883/2884 Rupasi Bangla Express, 2885/2886 Aranyak Express, 8645 East Coast Express, 2871/2872 Ispat Express, 2814 Steel Express, 2828 Purulia-Howrah Express and 2841 Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express would remain cancelled today.

The 2842 Chennai-Howrah Coromandel Express was diverted via Cuttack-Angul-Sambalpur-Jharsuguda, 8478 Haridwar-Puri Utkal Express was diverted via Jharsuguda-Sambalpur-Angul-Cuttack.

The New Delhi-Puri Neelachal Express was diverted via Bokaro Steel city- Muri-Ranchi-Hatia-Rourkela- Jharsuguda-Sambalpur- Angul-Cuttack.

UNI KDG SJC RN1819

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