Orissa flash floods kill eight, situation grim


Bhubaneswar : At least eight people were killed and about one million were left homeless in over 1,500 villages in north Orissa following flash floods triggered by torrential rains for the last past five days, officials said.

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The rains caused by a depression over the Bay of Bengal have led to flash floods in at least five rivers in the coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Keonjhar, and Mayurbhanj, Bhaskar Baita, an officer on special duty in revenue control room, said.

The floods have caused extensive damage in these districts where thousands of mud houses have collapsed, rendering many people homeless. Several roads have been cut off by floodwaters. River embankments have developed breaches.

The worst affected is Balasore where about 500,000 people in over 1,100 villages have been affected, Baita said.

The second most affected is its neighbouring district of Bhadrak where at least 200,000 people of about 146 villages have been affected.

"It is the biggest disaster we are witnessing in our region after the super cyclone of 1999 that had devastated coastal Orissa killing over 10,000 people," Raghunath Biswal, a resident of Balasore town, told IANS.

There was no sign of improvement Sunday even if there was no rain in the flood-hit areas. The situation has remained grim because all major rivers in the region are still in spate, a state revenue official said.

The water level in Kharasrota, Baitarani, Brahmani, Budhabalanga, Subarnarekha and Jalaka rivers continued to remain above the danger level, he added.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik undertook an aerial survey of the submerged regions.

While six people died in Balasore Saturday, two people were killed in neighbouring Bhadrak district. Patnaik announced a compensation of Rs.50,000 to the family of each of the dead.

In Balasore, four people were swept away by floodwaters, one died of electrocution and another was killed in a wall collapse, District Collector A.C. Padhiary said.

The administration has deployed Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in the flood-hit Baliapal and Bhogarai blocks of Balasore.

"The local administration has opened free kitchens in affected areas. We are trying to reach all the victims by Monday," special relief commissioner N.K. Sundarray said.

The state government has sent special medical teams to the flood-hit areas fearing diarrhoea outbreak, he said.

Road communication in most parts of Korei and Jajpur blocks has been disrupted with neck deep water flowing over of the major roads.

Relief has eluded people of more than 100 villages in both the blocks in the last 36 hours.

At least 146 villages have been affected in the district, officials said.

The district administration, however, claims that the relief operation has already started.

The situation is also grim in Keonjhar district, a senior state revenue official said.