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Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK

World: South Asia

25 killed in Bihar floods

By Manikant Thakur in Patna

Heavy floods in the northern Indian state of Bihar have killed 25 people and affected nearly two million.

BBC India Correspondent Daniel Lak: "It is going to be another bad year"
The authorities say it is some of the worst flooding in Bihar in recent times, and that much of it has been caused by heavy rain and river water flowing out of Nepal.

The monsoon in the region extends for three months, from July to September. Last year, some three million families and 28 districts were affected by the end of the rainy season.

State officials say, with the rapid rise of flood waters, the damage this year will be much higher.

The districts worst affected by the floods include Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Darbhanga, Samastipur and Madhubani. The water resources department of Bihar says that embankments of all the major rivers - Kosi, Bagmati, Gandak, Kamla-Balan and Budhi-Gandak are facing tremendous pressure.

Nepal's record rainfall

Officials say that water measuring over 500,000 cubic feet per second was discharged from the Bhimnagar barrage in the catchment area of Kosi river on 2 July, while 428,000 cubic feet per second was discharged at the Balmiki-Nagar barrage in the Gandak catchment area on 4 July.

[ image: Bihar's rivers have risen above danger levels]
Bihar's rivers have risen above danger levels
According to Bihar Water Resources Minister Jagtamand Singh, rains in Nepal this year were the heaviest in 40 years and this has led to unprecedented amounts of water flowing into Bihar.

Meanwhile, villagers in the flood-affected areas complained of inadequate relief measures by the state government.

Villagers in Sitamarhi said the situation has been deteriorating rapidly for more than seven years, since the state government did not strengthen river embankments and did not arrange to drain out the rain water.

The flood waters are rising at an average rate of two to three feet per day. The central water commission said that all the major rivers are flowing well above danger levels.

Relief efforts have also been hampered because boatmen have refused to loan out their boats to the government, after it failed to pay them dues owed from floods last year.

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