Bihar flood situation remains grim, PM-Sonia conduct aerial survey

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Patna, Aug 28 (UNI) At least 55 people have lost their lives so far owing to the devastating floods in north Bihar, even as the Kosi river today continued to wreak havoc, bringing more areas under its grip after changing its course on August 14.

The mighty Kosi, after breaching embankments on the Indo-Nepal border at several points and thereby changing its course, had inundated large areas of Madhepura, Supaul, Purnia, Saharsa, Khagaria and Araria districts, bringing untold miseries to over five million people so far.

In order to take stock of the situation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil today made an hour-long aerial survey of the worst-affected areas along with Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assmebly Rabri Devi.

On his return to New Delhi this afternoon, the Prime Minister is expected to announce a major relief and financial package for the state to deal with the unprecedented natural calamity after discussing the issue with senior officials and others.

Meanwhile, official sources here said though air-dropping of food packets in flood-affected areas had been continuing round the clock, it was hampered in some areas due to bad weather.

More than 250 boats were also pressed into service for distribution of relief material among the marooned people.

As the flood situation in Madhepura worsened, two more columns of the Army had been deployed there to assist the local administration to carry out rescue and relief operations.

Altogether 95 relief camps, set up in the worst-affected districts, were sheltering more than 50,000 people to whom relief was being distributed round the clock.

In all, 44 medical camps had also been opened in the flood-ravaged areas to treat the patients of water-borne diseases and other ailments, besides snake bite cases.

''Steps have also been taken to rush dry fodder for the cattle in flood-affected areas and 22 care centres have also been opened for the cattle,'' sources said.

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