Bhubaneswar : Heavy rain and winds continued to wreak havoc in Orissa Tuesday with tens of thousands of people battling hunger and looking for shelter as they fled their flooded homes.
The incessant rains over the last four days killed 15 people, including six who were struck by lightning in Cuttack, the worst hit in the floods that have affected over half a million people in the five coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Khordha, Jajpur and Jagatsinghpur.
Cuttack city, 25 km from the state capital, has borne the brunt of the torrential rains that led to at least 50,000 people of the town’s 300,000 population being trapped in their waterlogged homes.
“During the last three days, Cuttack received a record 437 mm of rainfall, a 50-year record. The situation is grave,” said Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Manmohan Samal, who visited the flooded areas Monday along with Urban Development Minister K.V. Sing Deo.
“Normal life in the city has been come to a standstill because of poor drainage. Ten boats have been deployed for rescue and relief operations,” Samal told IANS.
Giving details of the rescue operations in the city, he said 10,000 people had been shifted to safer places and the district administration had started providing cooked food through 14 free kitchens. This would continue for the next three days.
According to Deo, 116 pumps had been pressed into service and steps were being taken to disinfect water sources as the fear of epidemics loomed large.
“Safe drinking water pouches and water tankers are being provided to the inhabitants who have been advised not to use wells and tubewells till they are disinfected,” he added.
Ironically, the continuous downpour that has wrought havoc in some parts of the state has also come as a blessing in the other districts where lack of rain had led to virtual drought.
The eastern state can expect more rain in the coming days, predicted the weatherman, adding that the sea is likely to remain rough for the next few days and fishermen had been advised not to venture out to the sea.