Soldiers, choppers rescue flood-hit in Andhra


Hyderabad : The Andhra Pradesh government Friday called in the army while six helicopters of Indian Air Force were pressed into service to rescue marooned people as the flood situation in the state continued to be grim.

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The worst floods in the Krishna river in 100 years have so far claimed 26 lives while thousands of people remained trapped in flood waters in Kurnool and Mantralayam towns and dozens of villages in Kurnool and Mahabubnagar districts.

Terming the flood situation as “serious”, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said army personnel were deployed for rescue and relief operations.

Six helicopters have also been pressed into service to rescue people. While four helicopters are being used to airlift the flood-hit in Kurnool district, two choppers were deployed in Mahabubnagar district. A helicopter rescued 15 people in Mantralayam town.

Six power boats of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation were also being used to rescue people.

Revenue and Relief Minister Dharmana Prasad Rao said 120 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force based in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, were rushing to Andhra Pradesh for rescue operations.

Rosaiah spoke to Defence Minister A.K. Antony and union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to seek the help of defence and paramilitary forces for rescue and relief.

Andhra Pradesh Special Police (APSP) battalions were also deployed for rescue and relief.

The unprecedented inflows in Srisailam across the Krishna river following heavy rain in upstream Karnataka have triggered the worst floods in the Krishna basin in 100 years.

Floods in the Tungabhadra river and its tributaries added to the misery of people in five districts, especially in Kurnool and Mahabubnagar.

Almost the entire Kurnool town, about 250 km from state capital Hyderabad, and Mantralayam town in Kurnool district are marooned.

The floods have hit over a million people. In Kurnool district alone, half a million people were affected. Officials said 100,000 were shifted to relief camps.

Hundreds of villages in Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Krishna and Guntur districts were cut off following incessant rain over the last two days under the influence of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal.

The continuing massive inflows in Srisailam, downstream Nagarjuna Sagar and Prakasam barrage posed flood threat to several villages in Nalgonda, Guntur and Krishna districts. As a precautionary measure, the authorities have begun evacuating people from low-lying areas in Vijayawada city in Krishna district.

The Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers are reaching danger levels while several rivulets are overflowing. Over 350 tanks have breached, inundating towns and villages in the affected districts.

Flood waters from Srisailam have flooded Kurnool town, while the Tungabhadra’s waters have gushed into Mantralyam town, 120 km from Kurnool town.

The bus station in Mantralayam town is under water. Some passengers have climbed to the top of the building. The Raghuvendraswamy temple is completely under water, officials said.

The chief minister has asked all district collectors to remain on high alert as weather experts have forecast more rain till Tuesday. According to the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, heavy rain under the impact of the low pressure area was likely in north coastal Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema regions.

Meanwhile, road and rain transport to Rayalseema was badly hit by the floods. The state road transport corporation has stopped all buses to the region, comprising worst-hit Kurnool and three other districts.

Since the Hyderabad-Bangalore national highway is under water at several points, road transport between the two cities has come to a halt.

Train services, too, were hit by the floods. As many as 15 trains to the region were cancelled. A part of the track was washed away near Mantralayam, forcing the authorities to either cancel or divert trains, including those going to Bangalore.