Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneswar
Rain-swollen rivers have inundated vast areas in coastal Orissa, killing 43 people and causing widespread destruction, newspapers and officials said on Wednesday.
As the government announced a red alert, soldiers and two Indian Air Force
helicopters joined massive rescue and relief operations in areas where at least 500,000 people have been marooned.
Official sources said floods and incessant rains had damaged property and crops worth Rs 2.6 billion. One official said more than 7,000 villages had come under a sea of water.
Water levels of 10 major rivers flowing through southern Orissa are still rising, said Durgesh Nandini Sahu, an officer at the state revenue control room.
His comments came even as the death toll in the state rose to 43 on Wednesday
and the worsening situation led Chief Minister Navin Patnaik to seek Rs 2 billion from New Delhi for relief and rescue operations.
Oriya language newspaper Dharitri said seven persons each had died in Puri and Nayagarh districts, six in Cuttack, five each in Koraput and Angul, four
in Nabrangpur, three each in Bolangir and Kalahandi, two in Jagatsinghpur and one in Jajpur district.
"We do not know how we will overcome this crisis," said Subash Mohapatra of
Kanas in Puri district. Mohapatra's straw house has been under water since Sunday.
The meteorological office has predicted more rains in the next 24 hours. According to the water levels recorded at 9 am on Wednesday, the Mahanadi
river in Cuttack district has crossed the danger mark, Sahu said.
The Jobra river on the outskirts of Cuttack was also in spate.
"If the rivers overflow in this way then it may cause breaches in the embankments and we all will be swept away," said Pratima Jena, 40, who stays near the Orissa high court in Cuttack.
The state government has evacuated thousands of marooned people
from villages, state Relief Commissioner H Panda said.
After conducting an aerial survey of the affected areas twice, Chief Minister Navin Patnaik discussed with his cabinet steps to bring the situation under control.
Simultaneously, Patnaik wrote a letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee requesting him to make an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas and to depute a central team to assess the damage.
Indo-Asian News Service
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Orissa floods: Copters land for rescue operations
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