Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 12:39 UK

'Towns and villages have drowned'

Villagers flee to safety in Madhepura district
Villagers flee to safety in Madhepura district

Severe flooding in Bihar is estimated to have displaced half a million people.

Narendra Kumarjha, an executive officer of Indian NGO Mandan Bharti Jagriti Samaj, told the BBC News website about the devastation and what help is still needed.

I believe the current situation in Bihar is the worst witnessed for hundreds of years. NGO workers are helpless now - only central and state government can help.

We have volunteers working the the badly devastated areas and the scene for people there is horrendous.

People's dead bodies are floating in the water along with the corpses of cattle. People are forced to drink that same water. Hundreds of thousands have become homeless.

Survivors have taken shelter in government schools, colleges, railway stations and bus stands. But there are still more than 500,000 people to be rescued. They are on the roofs of concrete buildings like school buildings and other elevated places. They are crying in the wilderness.

The survivors are the most wretched lot leading miserable lives, dependent on external agencies for food. All are weeping, many have lost kith and kin. Families have been completely disintegrated.

'Towns drowned'

The entire affected area appears like a lake 125km long by 25km wide. This used to be a prosperous area of Bihar. The people were well settled and some of them were well-to-do, indeed affluent. Many of them now appear to have lost their senses - they desperately require help.

Photo by MBJS secretary Mrs Lajwanti Jha
The survivors are the most wretched lot leading miserable lives

The central government is supplying food, clothes and shelter. Only lives have been saved - nothing else. We have many needs: safe drinking water, vitamin tablets , milk powder, temporary shelter, mats, clothes for women. People from other states have begun to supply resources to those displaced.

Seven districts have been particularly badly affected with nearly 50-75% of Madhepura district drowned completely and Supaul district also suffering. Whole towns and villages have drowned; railway stations, roads, bridges, government buildings, the entire administrative apparatus of places have been wiped out.

'Terrifying flood'

Hardly any land in Madhepura is dry. Currently a stream of water is continuously going in these places and the water level is still rising, the flood situation is worsening. The water has not receded. A continuous flow of the River Kosi is coming from the Himalayas.

People have said that the flood was terrifying and that it looked like a super-fast train running on the track. People fled to save their lives, just to avoid the route of the train of water.

The current came at a speed of 50km an hour. In the last 15 days it has reached Katihar district where the river Ganges merges with the Kosi. We hope it does not threaten more communities still.

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