14 killed in Orissa floods, million marooned


Bhubaneswar : Torrential rains last week and the resultant floods in Orissa have caused havoc, killing 14 people and affecting over two million in ten districts of the state, officials said Wednesday.

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The situation continues to be grim as all rivers are flowing above the danger level and more rains are expected following the formation of a fresh depression over the Bay of Bengal, a state government official said.

“Over two million people in 3,187 villages in ten districts of the state have been affected. Standing crops in 150,000 hectares have been destroyed,” he said.

The districts affected by the latest floods are Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Khordha, Cuttack, Puri, and Kandhamal.

“Three persons died in state capital Bhubaneswar and the Niali area in Cuttack district each, two in Mayurbhanj and one in Balasore due to collapse of walls. Three others were swept away in Balasore and two in Kandhamal district,” an official at the flood control room told IANS.

All these deaths occurred in the past four days, he said.

Nearly one million people are marooned in the worst hit coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jajpur districts, and for the first time floodwaters have entered the Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak towns forcing the residents to take shelter on rooftops.

A fresh flood alert was sounded Wednesday in the low-lying areas in Bhadrak district after 10,000 cusecs of water were released from the local Hadagarh reservoir into the Salandi river system.

Road communication in most parts of the coastal districts has remained disrupted since the last four days with floodwaters flowing over all the state highways. The entire north Balasore is cut-off since Tuesday after parts of national highway 60 were washed away.

Khaira, Oupada, Chandabali and Tihidi blocks of the Balasore district have been cut-off due to a bridge collapse. Villagers said no relief has reached them even four days after the deluge hit them.

“We have ordered all district collectors to distribute relief materials on war footing. Rescue operation is on in all the flood-hit areas. The collectors also have been asked to arrange boats to expedite relief distribution,” Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal told IANS.

Venting ire on the central government, he said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has been neglecting the state even though it is reeling under severe floods time and again.

“Last year, we demanded Rs.23.82 billion but not a single rupee was given. This time, the situation is the same,” Samal alleged.

After an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas Tuesday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said compensations for the families would be paid within 15 days.

The fresh depression and subsequent rainfall in the coastal districts has left the local residents worried. “We now fear even a small spell of rain as the recent floods have broken our back-bone,” said Biswanath Jena, a villager.

The meteorological office here Wednesday forecast more rain in north and coastal Orissa. Squally weather and winds with a speed of up to 50 km an hour are likely to prevail along the north Orissa coast, a weather official said.