Thursday, 4 September 2008

Indian flood victims hunker down in camps (IHT)

JANKINAGAR, India: Soldiers and aid workers increased their efforts Wednesday to rescue hundreds of thousands of people still stranded after weeks of flooding in northern India, as those safe on dry land settled in at camps that were likely to house them for months.
The three refugee camps housing 7,000 people in Jankinagar town - one near a train station, the other two in schools - had an air of semipermanence Wednesday as women washed clothes and other people set up stalls to sell cigarettes.
In other parts of the flood-ravaged northern state of Bihar, thousands of soldiers and aid workers continued to try to save those still stranded on rooftops, trees and islands of dry land more than two weeks after monsoon rains caused the Kosi River to burst its banks and turn hundreds of square kilometers of Bihar into a giant lake.
Officials say more than half of the 1.2 million people stranded have been rescued. They have only confirmed 38 deaths, but it is widely believed the final toll will be significantly higher.

"How can I go back? The houses are gone, everything is gone," said Kakhrun Lal, 65, who watched four of his cows - his most valuable possessions - drown in the flooding. He sold the other two so his family could have a little money. But when that runs out, he will have nothing.

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