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Flood hit Indian state appeals for more help

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(AFP/Diptendu Dutta)
An Indian Air Force helicopter casts a shadow over floodwaters near the submerged village of Kumarkhad in north east India.

Flood-hit northern India is in dire need of international aid on the level of that seen after the 2004 Asian tsunami.
A large swathe of the already desperately poor state of Bihar is likely to remain under water for several months, leaving authorities coping with at least a million people who have lost everything.

Bihar disasters minister Nitish Mishra says “they will definitely need the support of international organizations and agencies, the same as after the tsunami (in 2004) or the Gujarat earthquake” in 2001.

Mishra says “It is not possible for just the government to have a complete rehabilitation policy on its own. Whatever more is available, we need it.”

The flooding started on August 18, when a river burst through defences upstream in Nepal and changed course to cut across a large rural area in Bihar state.

Officials say work to fix the flood walls and divert the Kosi river back to its normal course cannot begin before the rainy season ends in October, and may not even be completed before early next year.

About 600,000 people have already been evacuated from the flood plains, but 350,000 more still need to be plucked from roofs or isolated high ground and brought to safety.