A massive rescue operation is underway in flood-devastated northern India as angry, stick wielding victims resort to looting food warehouses and trucks.Government officials say nearly half the 1.2 million people left homeless when the Kosi River burst its banks two weeks ago have been taken to safety.
But the tragedy is not entirely nature’s doing as details of government ineptness emerge.
Information on rising floodwaters and an evacuation alert for Bihar state never came.
It is claimed SOS fax messages sent by engineers at the Kosi dam, warning of impending disaster, were ignored because the official in charge was on holiday.
People are demanding accountability. One distraught grandmother told how her son had died.
“I am the only one left to look after the children. I am dying of pain, dying of hunger, without food and clothes,” she said.
Experts and aid agencies also blame the government for mishandling the relief effort.
More than 2,000 extra military personnel have now been sent to the region.
With the numbers in refugee camps expected to almost double in the coming days there are growing fears that crowded and unsanitary conditions could lead to outbreaks of diseases such as cholera.
The flooding is expected to continue until November when the last of the monsoon rains taper off.