West Medinipur, worst-hit district

Special Correspondent

Buddhadeb visits flood-hit areas

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Saturday visited West Medinipur, one of the worst-affected areas in the recent rain, and stressed the need to step up relief to the marooned people in this and six other districts in the southern part of the State.

After holding a meeting with district officials, he said, the situation was critical in West Medinipur, where around eight lakh people were affected with water running upto seven feet in some areas.

In all 27 persons were killed over the last one week and 42 lakh living in the 5,268 rain-ravaged villages have been badly affected. The Government has opened 290 relief camps.

The services of the Army and the Air Force were requisitioned in Sabong and Ghatal in West Medinipur. The relief and rescue operations would continue till Monday, according to an official spokesman.

Mr. Bhattacharjee, who also held a meeting at the Secretariat immediately on arrival, said a flood-like situation prevailed in many of the areas and rescue and relief needed to be on a war-footing.

In one of the first instances of its kind, the Air Force utilised ‘power boats’ normally used for sea-rescue in wars. About 280 persons were rescued by four sea-divers.

At least seven sorties were made by helicopters, which operated in poor visibility till the evening to drop 3,000 packets of foodstuff, halogen tablets and anti-diarrhoeal and bleaching powder.

At least one expectant mother and another with a newborn child were rescued by the Army from their roof top in West Medinipur. The Army and the Air Force rescued 1,200 people from their roof and tree-top perches. The Government has been rescuing people in boats.

While Mr. Bhattacharjee visited West Medinipur along with his Cabinet colleagues Surya Kanta Mishra and Nandagopal Bhattacharjee, other Ministers, including Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta, fanned out to other rain-hit areas like Purba Medinipur.

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