Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: The flood-ravaged Maharashtra has sought Central assistance of Rs. 500 crore as the toll rose to 97.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told reporters after a meeting of his Cabinet on Tuesday that the Government had written to New Delhi to this effect. Floods had affected 2,000 villages in 19 districts of the State, necessitating evacuation of over one lakh people from low-level areas.

The onslaught of the rain had come down in the affected districts and Mumbai city; Nanded district continued to be a cause of worry since the Godavari was flowing about a metre above the danger level, the State Government sources said. The authorities continued to release water from different reservoirs as they got filled up to 90 per cent of their capacities. This threatened villages downstream.

The armed forces continued their rescue works in marooned areas, deploying their helicopters and boats.