Army battles natures fury in Punjab, two children washed away

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Jalandhar, Aug 17 (UNI) The flood situation in Punjab was grim with the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers, besides the seasonal rivulets and drains in spate following heavy rains in the catchement areas of the rivers and in various parts of the border state.

Reports reaching here said that two children aged about 11-years drowned in a drain in Kalandi village of Sangrur district today. The children alongwith three others were taking a bath in the drain when they went missing. Their dead bodies have not yet been recovered.

A report from Gurdaspur said that three families, comprising of 25 members, including women and children belonging to the Gujjar community were trapped near Gajjujaga village of the Narot Jaimal Singh area following sudden release of water from the Ranjit Sagar Dam upstream of the Ravi river. The district administration has sought the assistance of the army to airlift the trapped families, an operation which may not be possible in the night hours.

Meanwhile the menacing Sutlej river, despite receeding this morning engulfed about 40-odd villages in four other districts of the state, submerging crops in large tracts of fertile agricultural land, as army personnel relentelessly continued to fight the fury of nature.

Official sources here stated that the army, which was called out yesterday, assisted by the Punjab Police had pulled out a large number of residents from the marooned villages of Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ferozpur and Moga districts following two breaches each on the right and left banks of the Sutlej yesterday. So far no loss of human life had been reported though crops including paddy and sugarcane and vegetables in the affected areas had been completely destroyed.

Reports reaching here said that the army using motor boats, all through the day yesterday and even in the night continued to evacuate the people from the affected places to safer areas.

Residents are still perched on the roof tops of the houses in the affected villages which are under five to ten feet of water in the four districts.

Reports said that some of the villagers are prefering to stay back to guard their household belongings and livestock. The administration in the affected districts have set up relief camps where the evacuated villagers are being provided food, water and medicines.

A report from Ferozpur said that the residents of the affected villages have lambasted the civil administration for failing to provide timely relief to them. The villagers while praising the army said that all relief camps are being run by religious or social organisations and the administration has not provided anything.

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