Patna: A day after the Gandak river breached its embankments in Bihar`s Gopalganj district, the government intensified rescue and relief operations as the fear of floods led thousands to flee their homes, officials said Friday.
Floods caused by the breach could affect one million people in Gopalganj, Saran and Siwan district in the coming days if the water level continues to rise in the Gandak river, officials the state disaster management department said.
An area of 16 feet of the main embankment has caved in and the swirling waters are threatening a 500-metre long makeshift bund, said officials of the Water Resources Department.
The fear of floods haS created panic among thousands of villagers in Gopalganj, about 160 km northwest of Patna. Thousands of people have already fled their homes and the government also asked people to shift to safer places from the affected area.
"Hundreds of people have taken shelter at different places and in relief centres set up by the disaster management department," an official said.
District officials said a large number of people, particularly women and children, had taken shelter in school buildings and community halls.
The government has identified 150 sites for relief-cum-shelter camps in three districts for flood victims. "The government plans to provide shelter to over half a million people who will be evacuated from the affected area," an official said.
Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force comprising 142 personnel with 40 motorboats have been deployed in Gopalganj, two team with 20 motorboats have been stationed in Saran and one team with six motorboats is in Siwan for rescue and relief work.
Around 60,000 quintals of wheat and rice has been provided to Gopalganj and 50,000 quintals of wheat and rice to Saran for relief purposes, disaster management department officials said.
The government also sent 10,000 polythene sheets to Gopalganj and 1,500 tents for relief camps.
Officials of the disaster management department fear a repeat of the Kosi floods.
"Hundreds of villages will be affected by the breach in the embankments in Gopalganj and neighbouring Saran and Siwan districts," an official said.
In 2008, more than three million people were rendered homeless in Bihar when the Kosi breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course. It was said to be the worst flood in Bihar in 50 years.