Special Correspondent

High tides add to flood fury; 350 Konaseema villages marooned

HYDERABAD: Even six days after the depression crossed the coast, there is no significant relief from the floods in three districts of Andhra Pradesh though the level in the Godavari fell throughout its 678-km-long course in the State.

This paradox is the result of a new phenomenon high tide in the Bay of Bengal due to the full moon on Wednesday. Some 25 to 30 lakh cusecs of water from Dowlaiswaram are not entering the sea as the tide is pushing it back into villages near two of the seven confluence points Mukteswaram and Kotipalli Revu.

On Tuesday, 350 villages, mostly in the Konaseema area of East Godavari, were marooned against 280 the previous day. "The situation is terrible. The area under submergence is increasing every hour due to the backwaters," said M. V. P. C. Sastry, senior IAS officer specially deputed to monitor flood relief works in the district.

In all, nearly 400 villages and island habitations in Khammam and East & West Godavari districts remain water-logged leaving an estimated four lakh people searching for water, food and shelter. Two persons were washed away when two country boats carrying food capsized near Pedamallanka in East Godavari. In Razole and Inavelli, people were crying for help from top of their buildings. "We could not contact some 30 villages in the district, about 20 in Konaseema and other ten in the agency areas," said district Collector M. Subrahmanyam.

Even as the Government began attracting flak from political parties for tardy relief operations, a health crisis seems to be brewing with reports of viral fever and diarrhoea in several places. The toll touched 106, with six persons drowning in the flood waters. Disaster Management Commissioner Debabrata Kantha said 5,680 villages in 16 districts were directly or indirectly affected.

Six Indian Air Force helicopters joined the existing five choppers in relief operations following Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy's request to the Prime Minister.