32 killed in Andhra floods, relief works on


Hyderabad : Heavy rains and flash floods in Andhra Pradesh claimed 32 lives in two days even as rescue and relief operations were in full swing after the situation started improving in many affected areas Saturday.

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Rains and flash floods wreaked havoc in coastal Andhra Pradesh and parts of Rayalseema.

Officials had earlier put the death toll at 45. But Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy told reporters in the capital Saturday evening that 13 people, who were missing in Kurnool and Kadpa districts since Friday and feared dead by local officials, had returned safely.

With rains abating in coastal areas and floodwaters receding fast, the situation was returning to normalcy. Intermittent rains, however, were continuing in Kurnool and Mahabubnagar districts.

According to weather officials, a low-pressure area that crossed the Andhra coast early Friday triggering the heavy rains was centred over Osmanabad in neighbouring Maharashtra. They have forecast heavy rains in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Some 70 soldiers Saturday joined civil authorities in rescue and relief operations in the worst hit Kurnool district. Helicopters were also pressed into service.

The chief minister said 84,000 people had taken shelter in 51 relief camps in Kurnool district while authorities air-dropped or distributed 200,000 food packets among the affected.

As floodwaters receded in Guntur and Prakasam districts in coastal Andhra, hundreds of people, who had been shifted to relief camps, were returning home.

Parts of a few towns and villages remained inundated due to overflowing rivulets, streams and tanks. Local authorities rescued about 40 people trapped in vehicles in swirling waters.

Efforts were on to trace seven people missing in Guntur and East Godavari districts.

The death toll in Kurnool district was revised to nine with 12 people, who were feared dead, returning safely.

Five people were killed in Guntur, four in Prakasam, and three each in Kadpa, Karimnagar, Mahabubnagar and Hyderabad. The remaining deaths were reported from Srikakulam and East Godavari.

Incessant rains since Thursday and flash floods damaged paddy nurseries in the fertile coastal region while strong winds uprooted trees, electricity and communication poles, snapping power supply to many towns and villages.

Hundreds of trucks and buses were stranded on waterlogged highways. The Chennai-Kolkata highway was cut off. Train services also came to standstill in Kurnool and Guntur districts as railway tracks were submerged at a few points.

Reddy said 198 irrigation tanks were breached due to heavy rains in seven districts. The movement of vehicular traffic was badly hit as roads up to a length of 156 km were damaged. Traffic was disrupted at 150 places.

For the second consecutive day, flights were suspended to the coastal city of Visakhapatnam.

The chief minister announced compensation of Rs.200,000 for the kin of each of those killed.