Floods wrought further havoc in Bihar where the death toll rose to 23 and the number of people affected crossed 70 lakh on Friday, even as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conducted yet another survey of areas inundated by overflowing rivers originating in Nepal and flowing through northern districts. According to the bulletin issued by the disaster management department, the rise in death toll was on account of two casualties reported from Darbhanga, which has been the worst-hit by the calamity this season, with close to 1.9 million of residents affected.
The district now accounts for a total of nine flood-related casualties, followed by six in Muzaffarpur, West Champaran (four) besides Saran and Siwan (two each).
The number of people distressed by floods reached 71.16 lakh, an increase of two lakh since the previous day.
Fourteen more panchayats have been hit by the floods, raising the total number of affected village bodies to 1199.
NDRF and SDRF teams are busy carrying out relief and rescue work and till date 4.95 lakh people have been evacuated from the badly-hit areas.
More than 10 lakh people were being fed at 1420 community kitchens set up by the administration while 11,793 were taking shelter at half a dozen relief camps.
Altogether 16 districts have been declared as flood-affected by the department.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar conducted an aerial survey of the Pipra-Piprasi embankment constructed along the Gandak river, close to the states border with Uttar Pradesh.
The chief minister, who had toured Darbhanga a couple of days ago, also took stock of the preventive measures in place in Bagaha town, which falls in the West Champaran district and is situated close to the border with Nepal.
He later visited the Gandak Barrage at Valmiki Nagar, donning a face shield over his masked face in an apparent bid to underscore the importance of safety measures to be adopted amid the COVID 19 pandemic.
Kumar interacted with the officials entrusted with the upkeep of the barrage, received their feedback and gave necessary instructions before heading for the control room where he perused an exhibition of locally constructed paver blocks.
Visibly impressed by the quality of the paver blocks, the chief minister offered his words of encouragement to the workers engaged in the production.
He reiterated his commitment to providing employment, closer home, to all those who lost their livelihoods during the lockdown and returned to Bihar from various parts of the country.
Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar, Principal Secretary to the CM Chanchal Kumar and local legislators- Dhirendra Pratap Singh and Bhishma Sahni- were among those present on the occasion.