Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Monday, 25 August 2008 10:47 UK

Flood devastation in Bihar state

By Amarnath Tewary

Floods in Bihar (file picture]
Floods are common in South Asia

Over a million people have been affected by floods in three districts of the northern Indian state of Bihar, officials say.

The banks of the Kosi river overflowed days after the part of the river in neighbouring Nepal breached an embankment there.

Bihar's districts of Supaul, Araria and Madhepura which border Nepal are the worst affected.

Floods in South Asia are common. About 28m people were affected last year.

Supplies by air

Officials say that crops on tens of thousands of hectares of land have been damaged by the Bihar floods.

Over 50 relief camps have been opened in the three affected districts, and Indian air force helicopters are dropping food packets in the area.

People in the area have taken refuge on embankments, highways, and buildings to escape the flood waters.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has described the floods as a "catastrophe".

Over 170 country boats have been pressed into service to rescue stranded people, and reach relief supplies.

However, the affected people say they have not been receiving any government help.

They chased away three senior legislators who had arrived in the area to meet flood victims during the weekend.

"All the relief material is being siphoned off by government officials," alleged farmer Kameshwar Prasad, who has taken shelter in a school in Supaul district.

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