NEW DELHI

Bihar flood toll mounts to 234

PATNA, JULY 24. With more deaths reported from 19 flood-affected districts of North Bihar, the toll in the current spell of floods rose to 234 even as the situation eased today.

Major rivers though still flowing above the red mark, maintained a receding trend for the third consecutive day.

However, the possibility of an epidemic was looming large with floating carcasses and human excreta in stagnant waters becoming a common feature.

District authorities of flood-affected areas have started sending SOS to the State Government for supply of bleaching powder, ORS packets and halogen tablets to control the possible outbreak of an epidemic, State disaster management sources said.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will make an aerial survey of flood-hit areas of Bihar on July 27, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will arrive here tomorrow to take stock of the prevailing flood situation in the State.

Mr. Vajpayee was likely to meet the affected people at Sitamarhi and if possible also travel to Samastipur and Darbhanga to meet flood victims.

According to official sources, the death toll in current spell of floods had risen to 234.

Samastipur accounted for the highest number of 59 deaths followed by Sitamarhi 53 and Muzaffarpur 31, Darbhanga 15, Bhagalpur 13 and East Champaran 8. Casualties were also reported from other districts.

According to relief and rehabilitation department sources, the State Government has so far air dropped 421 tonnes of food among the flood victims of 19 North Bihar districts, reeling under the impact of worst-ever floods in the recent past.

It said the army personnel with power boats had distributed 21960 litres of kerosene oil, 138017 metres of polythene sheets, 109683 pieces of match boxes and 191975 sticks of candles among the marooned.

Meanwhile, an area of 50.43 lakh hectares has been affected by the floods. According to initial estimates, standing crop worth over Rs 124 crore in an area of 13.84 lakh hectares, 3.5 lakh houses valued at Rs 53.92 crore and public property worth Rs 39.05 crore had been damaged in the current spell of floods, disaster management sources said.

Meanwhile, a Central Water Commission press release today said all the major rivers, including Ganga, Kosi, Mahananda, Ghagra, Adhwarara group of rivers, Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Bagmati were still in spate and flowing above the danger mark at several places along their course putting pressure on the embankments. The 19 flood-affected districts are: Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East Champaran, West Champaran, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur, Araria, Kishanganj, Katihar, Khagaria, Begusarai, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Purnia and Vaishali.

PTI

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