Further to our Appeal, issued on 1st September, we received the following update from our member, LWF-India.
Heavy rains continue and the water level in all the major rivers is steadily rising. The dams and barrages in the region have begun to release water. For instance, the Kosi river barrage at the Nepal/Bihar border has opened all the sluice gates to control flooding upstream.
The rains and the water released from the dams have flooded more areas. In the north of West Bengal, now, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Murshidabad districts have also been affected. Army and other defence forces are involved in rescue and relief activities.
No official or confirmed figures are available on the extent of damages. Reports available from Murshidabad indicate that more than a million people have been displaced by the floods. 16,000 houses have been totally destroyed and another 29,000 partially damaged.
Electric power generation and distribution stations have been flooded. Power supplies have been cut off to most of the areas for the past few days. Telecommunications and transport systems also have been paralysed. Some relief materials are being moved into the region through the railway network which is also likely to collapse if the water level increases further.
There is an acute crisis for drinking water, medicines, food, fuel and temporary shelter. Reports from these areas reveal that the incidence of water borne diseases - diarrhoea, gastroenteritis - is very high. There are also reports of deaths due to snake bite. There is an immediate need to rush medical aid.
LWF-India continues to receive urgent requests from local NGOs and government officials for supply of medicines, temporary shelter materials and bleaching powder, etc. In addition to dry food, small quantities of temporary shelter materials and bleaching powder have been dispatched to Malda on 5th September. Teams and materials have also reached the Bihar districts but since the telecommunication system is down, there is no fresh information from them.
The LWF-India relief teams in Malda report that in many villages the water level is between 15-20 feet. Country boats are the only means of communication but are not easily available. Those available are far too small to negotiate the strong currents. Relief camps are overcrowded and conditions are extremely unhygienic.
The relief teams have visited several villages where ACT/LWF-India had built flood resistant houses in the last couple of years. Many of these villages have been flooded for almost a month now, but the houses have not collapsed. This seems to be the only positive thing in this desperate situation.
Further updates will be shared as we receive them.
Thank you for your attention.
For further information please contact:
ACT Co-ordinator, Miriam Lutz (phone
++41 22 791 6032 or mobile phone ++ 41 89 203 6055)
ACT Appeals Officer, Neville Pradhan (phone +41 22 791 6035)
ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org