Tidal waves, disease stalk Sunderbans | india | Hindustan Times
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Tidal waves, disease stalk Sunderbans

india Updated: Jun 08, 2009 00:19 IST
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Tidal waves continued to lash Aila-hit islands in the Sunderbans through Saturday night and Sunday.

Villagers claimed the water level had increased since Saturday and could go up to five metres in low-lying areas by Monday.

“The high tide tolled in at night. In the morning, we woke up to see water gushing in… It was a ghastly sight,” said Jayanta Naskar, pradhan (headman) of Chunakhali village.

The village lies in Gosaba block - one of the worst affected. It comprises 14 villages, 12 of which are already inundated. Communication is cut off.

Since these islands are surrounded by the tributaries of big rivers like the Raimangal and Bidya, the water level is expected to go higher and the damage likely to be more.

Residents of these villages have been toiling day and night to plug the many breaches left by Aila with sand bags. But there are still gaping holes as wide as 2,500 feet.

A large number of people have fled towards higher grounds. Some have taken shelter on the embankments with the river dangerously close.

Environment experts and wildlife conservationists say the huge displacement caused by the cyclone and tidal waves may force many of the estimated 400,000 people who live among the mangrove forests and creeks and rivers to enter protected forests, thereby threatening one of the richest but most fragile ecosystems on earth.

In nearby Satjelia, Chiotomollakhali and Gothkhali, there’s another killer on the prowl — disease. An outbreak of enteric diseases has reportedly claimed five lives already, four in Satlejia alone, locals said. Officials did not confirm this though.

The central team, which is supposed to visit 11 places to assess damage and oversee relief work, has only reached Lahiripur so far.