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Flood situation grim in Midnapore

Air Force and Army personnel gear up for relief operations as the flood situation in west Midnapore district continues to be grim.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Midnapore
UPDATED ON JUN 18, 2008 02:05 PM IST

The flood situation in west Midnapore district continued to remain grim on Wednesday and efforts were on to trace the confidential assistant of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and two others who were swept away on Tuesday.



Official sources said the district administration has asked the state government to seek army help at Sabang, Narayangarh and Pingla areas.



The flash floods, triggered by heavy rains caused by a depression in the Bay of Bengal and southwest monsoon since Monday, have affected about 1.5 lakh people in the district.



Meanwhile, Coast Guard authorities at Haldia were asked to send divers to trace Banerjee's assistant Gautam Basu and two others who were swept away in the flash flood, the sources said. Basu and six others were driving from Orissa to Kolkata when their vehicle got struck at a flooded bridge in Poktapole.



Policemen who arrived on the spot saw that they could not get to the car. They tied a rope to one end of the railing and hurled the other end to the stranded persons so that they could cross the stretch holding on to the rope. While four persons managed to cross over, the railing collapsed and the other three, fell into the swirling water, the sources said.

With upper Assam already going under flood waters this monsoon season, Air Force and Army personnel are gearing up for relief operations in flood-prone Assam, Tripura, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa.

"Workshops are being organised to strike coordination between Army, IAF personnel and civil administration in provide immediate relief to the people of the affected areas," Defence Spokesman R K Das told PTI.

Workshops were held in late last month at IAF bases in Kalaikunda to provide succour during the times of flood in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. Another workshop in Guwahati assessed measures to be taken to help the victims of flood in the Northeast.

An 'Operations Coordination Cell' would be set up at Kalaikunda air base, which becomes an important base for flood relief operations during monsoon, Das said.

IAF officers in Kalaikunda and Guwahati have explained to administrative officials the capabilities and limitations of Mi-17 and Chetak helicopters and AN32 aircraft in bad weather.

The officials were also taken on the aircraft and helicopters to give them a hands-on experience of loading, air drops during the recuse operation, Das said.

He said more than 75,000 kg relief material was dropped over areas in West Midnapore district in West Bengal and Baleshwar district in Orissa last year when rivers swelled to maroon large swathes of the districts.
Nearly 280 people were rescued by the defence personnel, he said.

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