Severe flooding kills at least 100 in northern India

Church institutions join relief effort after devastating floods in Uttar Pradesh and Bidar
Severe flooding kills at least 100 in northern India

Bihar’s State Disaster Response Force teams rescue people from floods in state capital Patna on Oct. 1. (IANS photo) reporter, Bhopal
October 2, 2019
Church people and institutions have been severely affected by floods in northern India that have killed some 100 people and displaced millions.

At least 73 people were killed in Uttar Pradesh state and 29 in Bihar state in the rains and flooding that hit the region in the last week of September.

Warnings of further rain and flooding have forced the Bihar government to order closure of schools and other education institutions until Oct. 3.

“We are facing one of the worst floods in the recent history,” said Father Jose Kariakatt, a Jesuit social worker based in state capital Patna.

Although the death toll is less in Bihar, flooding caused extensive damage, with some 80 percent of Patna city flooded.

“Our schools, colleges, churches and other institutions in Patna are under floodwater,” Father Kariakatt told on Sept. 30. “Some places are under neck-deep water. However, church teams are out to help and take stock of the situation.”

Jaimon Thomas, a social worker based in Patna, said normal life has been “thrown out of gear” as transport and communication systems are not working. Electricity and water supply systems are also damaged, he said.

“Schools are shut, roads inundated. Many shops, hospitals and houses are submerged,” he said.

Services of more than a dozen trains to Patna have been canceled or diverted.

The administration used Indian Air Force helicopters to drop food and other relief material to people stranded in inundated villages.

Authorities had to move 900 prisoners from Ballia district jail in Bihar after floodwater entered the barracks of the jail located near the Ganges River.

“Even our government medical college is under floodwater,” Thomas said. “The entire city is flooded with water from the Ganges and from heavy rains in the past five days.”

The State Disaster Response Force had to rescue Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi in a boat after his official residence was flooded. Several other ministers and officials moved to high-rise buildings and hotels for safety.

“We are yet to assess the damages in both states,” said Father Paul Moojeli, director of Caritas India, the social service arm of Indian bishops.

“We have deputed our teams to assess the losses and damage to the life and properties of the people of these states, which have a history of flooding.”

In July, 127 people were killed and eight million displaced after rivers in Nepal burst their banks and swept through villages in Bihar.

“We have not been able to make up the losses from the July flood, and now we are again hit with another flood,” Father Kariakatt said.

He said the Church could not even estimate the losses “as almost all are affected, and everyone is searching for safe locations.”

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