Caritas Aiding Flood Victims in India

2.5 Million Homeless, Towns Cutoff

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MADHEPURA, India, AUG. 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Caritas India is responding to the immediate needs of rescue and evacuation as entire villages are being cutoff by flooding in India's planes.



The charity reported Friday that more than 2.5 million people have been evacuated from their homes in India as flooding devastated central and northern parts of Bihar after the Koshi River breached its banks.

The Koshi is over 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide in places and is still expanding. The affected districts are Supaul, Saharsa, Khagaria, Araria, Madhepura, Katihar and Purnea.

Caritas partners are in the region assessing the damage. They say thousands of people are stranded on the roadside, where the land is high. Transport and communication is impossible in many areas.

Caritas India says the immediate need will be rescue and evacuation as villages are being cut off. There is also a need for food aid, medical assistance and supply of tarpaulins.

Caritas India reported Friday upon visiting Madhepura: "The situation is grim and it appears to be getting out of control. Madhepura has a total population of about 1,400,000.

"Now the government is in the process of evacuating nearly 1,300,000 as the water level is rising above danger mark in most of the villages.

“We can see endless lines of people and cattle moving on the road for several kilometers. The situation is becoming worse today as there is heavy rain and the only road to the entire area is already breaching and will be cut off within the next few hours. The entire area will be cut off."

Caritas reported that the Indian government is using airdrops and boats to reach those stranded by rising waters, but many areas still remain cutoff.