Around 50,000 people are still stranded in flood-hit Bihar though the Bagmati river, which breached its embankment and inundated nearly 200 villages in Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts, has started to recede. Officials have intensified rescue work to help the 200,000 people affected by the flood.
"With water levels in the Bagmati river showing a receding trend and plugging of the breach near completion, the overall situation is improving," Bihar Disaster Management Minister Deveshchandra Thakur told IANS over telephone from Sitamarhi.
He said the entire breach would be plugged by the end of Tuesday. "Engineers with the help of workers have been working day and night to plug the breach," he said.
A fresh breach in the embankment of the Lakhendei, which flooded over 50 villages in Muzaffarpur, added to the difficulties faced by officials engaged in rescue and relief operations.
The swollen Bagmati had breached over a 100-feet stretch of the embankment at Tilaktajpur under Runnisaidpur block in Sitamarhi last week, inundating several villages and affecting over 200,000 people, a district official said.
Divisional Commissioner of Tirhut SM Raju said rescue and relief operations were in full swing in affected blocks.
"About 3,000 plastic sheets, 150 quintals of beaten rice and jaggery have been distributed among the flood-affected people in Sitamarhi," Raju said.
According to officials, rescue teams of the Sashastra Seema Bal, Border Security Force and National Disaster Response Force have been deployed for rescue operations.
The district administration has pressed nearly 100 boats into service to bring stranded people to safe places.
More than 25,000 people are taking shelter on embankments, rooftops and other high places but are yet to be provided relief materials.
"The embankments near Tilaktajpur are overcrowded with displaced people of villages submerged under floodwaters," an official said.
Till last Friday, the district administration and engineers had claimed that there was no threat to the embankment from the rising water level in the Bagmati river. According to official sources, the embankment was repaired and strengthened last year.
However, villagers claim they had informed officials about a six-inch wide hole in the embankment. But no move was initiated to repair it. Nitish Kumar has ordered a probe and promised stern action against erring officials.
More than three million people were rendered homeless when the Kosi river breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course August 2008, flooding large tracts of land.