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Sunday, May 31, 2009

န Rescue Operations On In Cyclone-Hit Bengal

Shatkhira, 30 May :
(L) A man rows a boat as his children on board, as they head to collect relief material at Gabura village in Shatkhira. (R) Villagers take shelter in their boats after losing their home at Gabura village in Shatkhira. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded out of their homes by deadly Cyclone Aila crowded government shelters in eastern India and Bangladesh on Friday, and officials said the risk of disease outbreaks was growing. Photos : AP
WB justifies Rs 1,000cr relief demand from Centre
Kolkata, 30 May : The West Bengal government on Saturday said it was justified in seeking Rs 1,000 crore as aid to the state for the massive destruction caused by cyclone Aila.
"Aila which hit the state on 25 May had left a massive trail of destruction. As many as 7.5 lakh houses were destroyed. Nearly 800 irrigation embankments needed to be repaired. The funds available with the state government were grossly inadequate to cope up with the situation," Finance minister Asim Dasgupta told reporters. The relief corpus lying with the state government was a mere Rs 210 crore, which would go up to Rs 450 crore after a fresh bout of contributions by the state and the Centre. However, this amount is not sufficient to provide relief to the victims, he said.
The toll had climbed to 125 and the number of affected of families numbered 53,67,000, Dasgupta said, adding that the state government was providing relief material to the affected on a war-footing. As many as 327 medical teams were providing attention to victims. The government has provided 3,300 kg free rice to the affected, he said. Photo : AFP
Police get eight days to grill Gulshan killar Merchant
Dhaka, 30 May : A Dhaka court on Saturday gave police eight days to grill Indian fugitive Abdur Rauf Merchant and two associates arrested this week by Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Detective Branch.
Police escorted the three in handcuffs into the chief metropolitan magistrates court at around quarter to the four in the afternoon. They emerged after the ruling just ten minutes later to be taken away in a white microbus. No lawyer was present on behalf of Merchant or the two others during the remand hearing. Investigation officer Ashraf Hossain in his remand petition said police needed ten days to grill Merchant on plans for criminal activities in Bangladesh.
Police earlier in the day said Merchant, convicted in 2001 for the murder of music mogul Gulshan Kumar, came to Bangladesh on the orders of notorious Mumbai 'mafia don' Daud Ibrahim. Photo : Firoz Islam

Lakhs left homeless by Cyclone Aila in Bangladesh
< A girl looks on, as crowd to receive relief material at the cyclone affected village of Nowabanki in Shatkhira.
Dhaka, 30 May : Over one and half lakh dwelling houses have been totally damaged by the onslaught of the cyclone Aila in Bagerhat, Borguna, Khulna and Satkhira districts. Several lakhs of people, virtually homeless, are reportedly staying on high roads, dams, cyclone centres, boats in the affected areas. In Bagerhat, 2,403 houses were totally and 39,600 houses 1,247 houses were damaged in Mongla, 750 in Sharankhola and 406 in Sadar Upazila. As many as 3,920 families have lost their houses Barguna. A total of 19,658 houses were partly damaged while 262 educational institutes-24 totally and 238 partially-were damaged, district control room reported. About one lakh houses were damaged in the onslaught of the cyclone and tidal bore in Khulna.
Over five lakh people have taken shelter on the cyclone centres, boats and dams. Additional deputy commissioner Md Maojjam Hossain said 94,858 houses were washed away by the cyclone and tidal surge. In Satkhira, 1,15,729 houses were totally damaged and 26,055 houses partially damaged in seven Upazilas during the cyclone, the district relief and rehabilitation centre said.
As many as 5,95,122 people of 1,14,164 families were badly affected by the cyclone in seven upazilas. Besides, 19,537 people are staying at 160 shelter centres. Photos : AP
Cut off by low tide, Sundarbans racked with thirst
< Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers distribute bottles of water to people in the cyclone-hit area of Monipur village in the Sundarbans delta.
Gosaba (South 24 Parganas), 30 May : People in Sunderbans have no access to any relief material even days after Cyclone Aila left a trail of devastation in the region. Two vessels carrying 1,00,000 litres of drinking water and a floating water treatment plant have been left stranded near a bridge at Basanti due to low tide.
They were headed to Gosaba block where nearly two lakh residents are reeling under an acute drinking water crisis with 11 of the 13 gram panchayats inundated by saline water. West Bengal's Sunderban Affairs Minister Kanti Ganguly said the vessels are waiting for high tide to resume their journey. Ganguly said the material to install 30 tubewells in the area have been supplied to the block administration but it will take some more time. According to Ganguly, Gosaba and Patharpratima blocks were badly affected following the storm and relief materials have not been ferried to the remote areas. He added that the district administration had supplied relief materials to the gram panchayats but the latter had failed to distribute them among the villagers. Ganguly admitted that there is a shortage of relief material. According to the block administration of Gosaba, almost 50,000 huts have been destroyed.
While 50,000 people have taken refuge in relief camps, a similar number are spending their days in temporary shelters on roads. Ganguly said that it was not possible to reconstruct the villages at Gosaba and Patharpratima within a short period. In a related development, the district administration has requested the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) for assistance to bury the animals that died in the storm. A team of 100 KMC officials will reach Gosaba to bury the animals. If this was not done, water sources in the block would be contaminated resulting in an epidemic. Meanwhile, South 24 Parganas District Magistrate Khalid Ahmed told Bengal Newz, panchayats have been instructed to expedite relief distribution.
Ministers and top officials of South 24 Parganas district administration visited Gosaba block to look into the distribution of relief materials. One helicopter was also pressed into service for the distribution. Operating from Barrackpore air base, the aircraft made two sorties in Satgelia and other remote areas of Gosaba. Photos : Indrajit Dutta
Basanti , 30 May :
People in Sunderbans have no access to any relief material even days after Cyclone Aila left a trail of devastation in the region. Two vessels of BSF's National Disaster Response Force (106 Battalion) carrying 1,00,000 litres of drinking water and a floating water treatment plant have been left stranded near a bridge at Basanti in South 24 Parganas district due to low tide.
Photos : Indrajit Dutta

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