Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Flooding and Food Riots

First it's eat rats, now rains and food riots? Bihar can't catch a break!
Food riots erupted on Wednesday in Bihar, where more than 2 million people have been forced from their homes and about 250,000 houses destroyed in what officials say are the worst floods in 50 years. One person was killed in Madhepura district when angry villagers fought among themselves over limited supplies of food and medicines at overcrowded relief centres.

The Kosi river in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, smashed through mud embankments and changed course last week, unleashing huge walls of water that inundated hundreds of villages and towns. The floods have since killed nearly 50 people in Bihar.

Stranded villagers waved at passing helicopters and sent text messages to local authorities from rooftops of flooded buildings.

"Time is running out for me and there is no relief in sight and I have not eaten for days," a message from flood victim Sanjeev Kumar read.
Officials said floods had destroyed more than 227,000 homes and damaged about 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of vegetables, wheat and paddy crops.

Last year, floods in eastern India and Bangladesh killed around 2,000 people. Millions were affected and officials fear climate change will make similar disasters more frequent.