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India on alert: Nepal landslip leads to evacuation of 40,000 in Bihar

04 August 2014

Over 40,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Bihar after a flood alert following a drastic rise in the water level of the Kosi River, caused by a landslide in neighbouring Nepal.

The state government said today that the "situation is under control" and "there is no need to panic".

The landslide triggered by heavy rains on Saturday has killed nine people in Nepal and left scores missing. Moreover it has created a mud dam blocking the Sunkoshi river, which runs into Bihar as the Kosi.

Controlled blasts were carried out by the Nepali army to clear the blockage, as a total of 28 to 32 lakh cusecs of water has accumulated due to the landslide.

The fear in India is that as Nepal tries to blast its way through the landslide to clear it, it will unleash a torrent of water across densely-populated Bihar.

Water levels at the Birpur barrage in the state, which is the entry point for the river into India, have risen this morning.

"The state government will closely monitor the release of water from Nepal for the next two days, and there is no need to panic," Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said on Sunday after a top-level meeting at Birpur near the Nepal border.

After an aerial survey of the Kosi region, he said that people living outside the embankments were not threatened.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Kathmandu till Sunday for what was billed to be a historic visit, expressed concern over the flood situation and directed that all possible assistance be made available.

An official release said union cabinet secretary Ajit Seth was "in constant and direct touch" with the state's chief secretary.

Eight teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) with boats have been deployed in Bihar, while seven more were being deployed and five are been kept on standby.

The state government has put its personnel on alert and instructed them to evacuate 1.5 lakh people in eight districts - Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura, Khagaria, Bhagalpur, Araria, Purnia and Madhubani.

Army columns and personnel of the engineering task force have been mobilised to reach Supaul and Saharsa, while an AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force would be used to carry personnel and equipment to Purnia.

Further, the centre has deployed four MI-17 and two Chetak helicopters to Bihta near the Bihar capital of Patna; and two more MI-17 choppers are on standby. Naval diving teams have also been kept in readiness.

The union government is also sending a medical team and equipment. The release said that central government has also provided Bihar government 15 satellite phones.

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