New Delhi, Sep 1 : The Army today intensified its ongoing rescue work in flood hit areas of Bihar, and rushed 16 additional columns of men to join relief efforts. Central Army Commander Lt General H S Panag, who is supervising the operations, said: "Another 16 columns of men have been sent to areas affected by the floods in River Kosi."
The Army also pressed into service six helicopters -- four Cheetahs and two Dhruvs -- for rescuing people marooned in areas inaccessible by road or by boat. Twenty one columns are already deployed for rescue and relief work.
Apart from 21 medical teams already working in the flooded areas, the Army's engineers have set up 14 water points and sent 500 tents that could accommodate 20 people each.
It has also set up a 24-hour control room to operate the Patna Airport, apart from two other centres activated in Bihta and Purnea airstrips.
Three Command and Control Nodal centre, each headed by a Brigadier, have been set up at Danapur to take care of relief logistics such as receiving materials and distributing them, while those at Khagadia and Katihar will coordinate the rescue operations.
All essential communications in the affected areas, including satellite phone connections, have been established with help from Army's Signallers.
About 4500 Army personnel have been deployed including doctors.
The Centre has also rushed 141 naval divers to the flood affected areas of the state. Twenty army columns have been pressed into service for relief and rescue, each with two 100 personnel and 10 boats.
The state government has posted newly appointed IAS officers to oversee the relief and rescue operations and monitor the deployment of army as well as army boats.
The flood caused by the breach in the eastern afflux embankment at upstream Kuaha village in Nepal on August 18 is the worst in the region. The area was considered secure against the possibilities of floods after construction of hundreds of miles of embankments and Bheemnagar barrage more than four decades ago.
Meanwhile, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad held the state government responsible for the catastrophe and the plight of the flood affected people of north Bihar.