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  Metros   Kolkata  29 Jul 2017  Ghatal flood turns ugly, government ropes in Air Force

Ghatal flood turns ugly, government ropes in Air Force

Published : Jul 29, 2017, 4:21 am IST
Updated : Jul 29, 2017, 4:21 am IST

Toll rises to 28 Howrah, Hooghly among worst affected.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee Mamata Banerjee (Photo: PTI)
 Chief minister Mamata Banerjee Mamata Banerjee (Photo: PTI)

Kolkata: The flood-like situation in Ghatal turned ugliest on Friday as the Mamata Banerjee government sought help from the Air Force for the first time. 

Heavy rains, coupled with release of water from the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), aggravated the situation, resulting in inundation of a number of districts in southern and western Bengal.

However, with the DVC releasing less water on Friday, situations in districts like Howrah, Hooghly have slightly improved. The death toll due to flood was attributed to 28, with districts like West Midnapore, Howrah, Hooghly, North 24 Parganas and Bankura being the worst affected. 

“On the request of district magistrate (West Midnapore) one Mi17 V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force got airborne from Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas in the afternoon. The rescue operation has started till last reports came in,” a spokesperson for the Eastern Command said. 

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, while leaving the state secreteriat Nabanna in the evening, said the helicopter had failed to rescue the people from the area. “We had tried to use ladders for lifting the people. However, they could not be lifted. The situation is so grave there,” Ms Banerjee  told reporters. She added that floods in the state had never been so bad since 1978. 

“The DVC is responsible for this situation. They had released water indiscriminately,” she said. Sources in the state secreteriat said that the Air Force’s help was sought in order to rescue 39 people who were trapped inside a two-storey house at Pratappur village in the Ghatal sub-division of West Midnapore. Among the marooned villagers, were several women and children. 

This was the tallest structure in the village and people took shelter in it after other houses and huts in the area were either destroyed or inundated, district officials said.

Rescue workers had failed to reach the house even with speedboats due to heavy current. According to the district administration, if the marooned people had left their houses at the beginning of flooding, the situation would not have turned this bad. “But we cannot blame people as nobody likes to flee their house. The flow of the water was very strong. It washed away everything....people, houses, vehicles,” an official said. 

District officials did not rule out the apprehension of the houses collapsing at any time. Rescue operations will begin again from Saturday morning. 

Irrigation minister Rajib Banerjee visited Ghatal in the morning, while urban development minister Firhad Hakim visited Labhpur in Birbhum to take a stock of the situation and listen to the problems of the flood-affected people. 

Tags: mamata banerjee government, heavy rains, flood
Location: India, West Bengal, Calcutta [Kolkata]