Death toll in flood-hit Bengal 31, situation improves



Three more flood-related deaths were reported in West Bengal, taking the toll to 31, even as Indian Air Force helicopters dropped food and medicines in marooned areas and rescued nine people in West Midnapore district.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the situation had improved but could worsen again if more water was released from the dams.

"Three more persons have died in the last 24 hours. The toll since July 21 (when the heavy rains started) is 31," a state government official said but did not give the details as to where and how the fatalities occurred.

Around 2,067 relief camps were opened in the 11 flood-hit districts where 165 villages spread across 104 blocks had been inundated due to heavy monsoon rains and release of water from the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) dams since last weekend.

"The (flood) situation has got better but the problem will again rise if more water is released. The quantum of water released was more than the amount during the 1978 floods," Banerjee said while leaving the state secretariat Nabanna.

Asked about the stranded people in Pratappur village of West Midnapore district's Ghatal block, she said: "Many persons were rescued from Ghatal and we are trying."

A Defence Ministry spokesperson said nine people, including three women and five children, were rescued from the area by air force helicopters that took off from the Barrackpore air base.

"Nine persons were winched up and food and medicines dropped," the spokesperson said.

The state government official said the situation had improved in the affected districts due to the rainfall receding and the DVC releasing less water.

Meanwhile, the DVC withdrew the yellow flood warning message for Panchet dam in neighbouring Jharkhand. - IANS