Over a million people in the Bongaon sub-division of West Bengal, a high proportion of them refugees from East Pakistan, are in the grip of disastrous floods from the Ichumati River and other waterways.
GV Refugee huts partly submerged by floodwater (3 shots).
SV Refugees wading and crossing bamboo bridge (2 shots).
CU Child using water pump in floodwater.
GV Madrasa refugee camp under floodwater (4 shots).
SV Refugees in boat and landing on dry land (2 shots).
LV & SV Refugees living in tents.
CU Women cooking.
CU Woman and child outside tent.
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Background: Over a million people in the Bongaon sub-division of West Bengal, a high proportion of them refugees from East Pakistan, are in the grip of disastrous floods from the Ichumati River and other waterways.
There are 32 refugee camps scattered through Bongaon sub-division and 28 of them, containing over half a million refugees, are affected. The camps, filthy and overcrowded at the best of times, have been turned into lakes and quagmires.
Worse still, very meagre food supplies are getting in, and there are fears that for many refugee children, malnutrition may rapidly turn to starvation.
Yesterday (16 September) it was reported that 75,000 refugees cut off at a camp at Deara, north of Bongaon, are threatened by famine because of a strike by Government lorry-drivers.
SYNOPSIS: More than half a million East Pakistan refugees who crossed into India are now homeless again, flushed out of their huts and tents by the disastrous flooding of the Ichumati River. Flood waters are reported still spreading in some areas, and there are warnings that polluted water supplies may lead to cholera and other epidemics as the floods recede.
In West Bengal's Bongaon sub-division 90 per cent of the land and 28 out of 32 refugee camps are under water. This one, the Madrasa camp, is typical. Bongaon itself, about 50 miles north east of Calcutta, had only a day's supply of relief materials on Thursday, and no fresh supplies were getting through because of a strike by Government truck drivers. Boats to carry materials to isolated areas are in short supply and most are slow-moving country boats which might take three days to reach their objectives.
Deara camp, 45 miles northwest of Bongaon was reported completely cut off and with barely enough food for two days. Even if most of the adult refugees manage to survive this latest disaster, there are grave fears for their already under-nourished children.