08/04/2016, 15.48
INDIA
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Caritas India, aid for flood victims in Bihar and Assam

by Nirmala Carvalho

More than 150 dead and over 2 million displaced. The monsoon rains continue to fall. Caritas has activated emergency operations immediately, but roads and bridges are flooded and remote villages are inaccessible.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Caritas India volunteers are struggling against time to bring aid to flood victims, who have been waiting for relief for over a week. In recent days heavy monsoon rains have flooded i Bihar and Assam states in eastern India, where more than 150 people have died and at least two million people are displaced. The floods have caused a lot of damage even in the west, including the collapse of a highway bridge between Mumbai and Goa.

Caritas India immediatley mobilized to tackle the emergency. Shalinee, an official who is currently in Bihar, told AsiaNews: "Some villages can be reached only by boat. But since the boats are a luxury for the poor, they bind together the banana trunks and use them as rafts ".

Describing her first experience in disaster relief, the woman says that she and her four companions were "so close on the raft we could feel each others heartbeats".

Shalinee warned headquarters that the team failed to reach the most distant village in Baisa block, because of the submerged bridge. Similarly even the population of the village has been unable to reach out to the rescuers and to take the material assistance.

Father Frederick D'Souza, Executive Director of Caritas India, says: "Imagine the suffering of more than two million people struggling against the rains at this time, while we are in the calm of our homes".

The waters have damaged farmland and infrastructure, and also are putting risk the survival of protected species of animals in the Kaziranga National Park (Assam). Hundreds of people are blocked by the damaged highway in the direction of Manali, a tourist resort in Himachal Pradesh.

The monsoons have also hit Nepal and China, where there have been avalanches and landslides causing dozens of deaths. Weather forecasts indicate that the rains will continue to fall for several more days.

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