Thousands of people rendered homeless in Bihar awaited relief on Thursday, a day after a violent storm ravaged parts of the state's eastern region killing at least 72 people.
The high velocity storm, which hit the Seemanchal region early Wednesday, destroyed thousands of houses and snapped power and communication lines besides uprooting hundreds of trees and killing a large number of cattle in Araria, Purnia, Kishanganj, Katihar and Supaul districts.
According to an official of the state disaster management department, 32 people were killed in Purnia, 33 in Araria, five in Katihar and one each in Kishanganj and Supaul.
Unconfirmed reports, however, said that 89 people were killed.
Principal Secretary (Disaster Management Department) Vayasji told IANS here that the government began distribution of relief Wednesday itself. The relief efforts would speed up Thursday, he said.
"We have been monitoring so that relief reaches to those affected as soon as possible" he said.
However, the victims complained that the state government has not been prompt in providing them with relief.
"We are hungry, our children are crying for food, the local officials are yet to provide us any relief," Naushad Alam, a storm victim from Tetri Badi village in Purnia, about 400 km from the state capital, told IANS Thursday over one of the telephone lines restored.
The state government has announced Rs.1.5 lakh compensation for the next of kin of those killed.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who conducted an aerial survey of affected areas Wednesday, said that storm victims would be compensated on the norms of relief applicable during floods and other natural calamities.
"I have asked district officials to provide relief to affected people soon," he said.
Araria District Superintendent of Police S.S. Thakur said that an old wall at the Araria jail collapsed, following which "police decided to shift 650 inmates to Purnia jail".