With 877 villages completely cut off from rest of the state due to high flood in Mahanadi river system, Orissa government Sunday began air-dropping of food packets in worst hit areas as the death toll rose to 16, official sources said.
"As of now three sorties were made to most affected areas of Gop, Delang/Kanas in Puri district and Kujang in Jagatsinghpur," Revenue and Disaster Management minister S N Patro told reporters after making an aerial survey of flood hit areas along with chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Three choppers, two from navy and one from ministry of home affairs, were engaged in dropping food packets as the district administration failed to reach the affected people due to snapping of road links.
"One more navy chopper will join in air-dropping tomorrow," the minister said.
Fifteen quintals of dry and cooked food could be dropped from choppers today, he said adding 97,117 people were evacuated from low lying areas to safe places and given food as 186 relief camps/free kitchens were opened, he said.
At least 16 persons, five from Jajpur district, three each from Kendrapara and Mayurbhanj districts, two each from Dhenkanal and Sambalpur district and one person in Bhadrak district, died in the flood which affected 13.9 lakh people. "There are reports of six persons being swept away in Nayagarh and Bargarh district," said Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra.