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The BBC's Jill McGivering in West Bengal
"There is little sign of any official relief being distributed"
 real 56k

PS Ingty, Relief Commissioner in Calcutta
"We have a long way to go"
 real 56k

Red Cross worker Fernando Soares
"It's been very difficult to reach the marooned people"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
High tides threaten Calcutta
Rescue boat in Ranaghat, West Bengal
Boats are being used to reach the flood victims
Tens of thousands of people have begun returning to their homes in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta after being forced out by floods.

But officials warn that high tides on the Ganges river still pose a threat to the city's residents.

Some supplies are getting through, but some areas are still inaccessible

Fernando Soares, Red Cross
More than 500 people are now said to have died in the floods sweeping the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, where Calcutta is located.

The army and air force are assisting relief operations but large parts of the state remain cut-off with millions of villagers still to receive any food or medicine.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says floodwaters have been receding in many parts of the metropolis, after it was struck by a tidal wave shortly after midnight on Tuesday.

The Calcutta port complex and the Alipore residential suburb were badly affected.

Calcutta city map
The Howrah industrial area was also inundated under more than one metre (yard) of water.

"There is waterlogging in Calcutta.... We are pumping out water from the affected areas," police inspector Diptimoy Mondal told the AFP news agency.

Relief operations

Elsewhere in West Bengal, the situation continued to be grim with fresh rains overnight.

Millions of villagers have been displaced, mainly in the Birbhum and Murshidabad districts.

Airforce helicopters are being used to drop food and emergency supplies to those affected, but many have complained of receiving little or no relief.

Aid officials say they are trying to reach the affected areas by country boats.

"Some supplies are getting through, but some areas are still inaccessible," said Fernando Soares of the International Red Cross.

Flood-hit Meherpur, Bangladesh
The floods have spread to Bangladesh
"For those still cut off, this is obviously a very serious situation," he said.

On Monday, hungry mobs attacked relief teams and looted trains carrying relief aid.

Relief workers are said to be concerned over the threat of disease to the villagers because of a severe shortage of fresh drinking water.


The floods have caused damage costing millions of dollars and have destroyed homes and farmland.

Neighbouring Bangladesh has also been badly hit by flooding.

At least eight people have been killed and some 140 villages inundated after major rivers broke their embankments.

Soldiers and volunteers are reported to have rescued 10,000 marooned villagers and are trying to reach many others.

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See also:

26 Sep 00 | South Asia
Thousands flee flood-alert in Calcutta
10 Aug 00 | South Asia
Analysis: India's wet spots
12 Aug 00 | South Asia
Millions face deluge clear up
10 Aug 00 | G-I
India flood: disease threat
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