NATIONAL

Orissa floods may worsen; 20 lakh affected

The major flood in rivers Brahmani and Baitarani has affected more than 20 lakh people in 10 districts of Orissa while many areas in the worst-affected Jajpur district have remained cut off.

Special Relief Commissioner's office said 17 persons died, mostly drowned, some of snakebite and in wall collapse — while two persons were reported missing in Angul and Keonjhar districts.

The highest flood casualty has been reported from Jajpur where six persons died. Four persons are reported to have lost their lives in Sundargarh district.

Besides, 10 persons were stated to be missing when the country boat they were travelling in overturned in Brahmani, under Gaandia block of Dhenkanal district on Sunday. The body of Aswini Kanungo, missing member of the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force, was retrieved in Dhamanagar area under Bhadrak district.

Helicopters for service

As thousands of villagers were encircled by floodwaters and relief teams were finding it difficult to reach them, the State government pressed three helicopters into service for dropping food packets. With the flood situation apprehended to worsen, two more helicopters would be used for rescue and relief operations. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the flood situation here on Sunday and asked the district administration to step up relief operations.

Worst affected

Bari Block in Jajpur district is the worst affected region. Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Mohapatra said: “Close to one lakh persons have been shifted. Alert has been sounded in all low-lying areas in Jajpur and Kendrapara districts. Those who were reluctant to leave their homes were being forcibly evacuated to safer places.”

Brahmani was flowing at 23.60 metres at Jenapur against the danger level of 23 metres on Sunday afternoon. The Water Resource department said flow would continue to remain at the higher level for some more time.

However, floods in Baitarani have receded to below the danger level at Anandpur and Akhuapada.

The current floods soon after the recent ones in the Mahanadi have hit 3,128 villages in 10 districts. More than 1000 villages have been completely marooned. Flood waters have submerged houses up to the roof in many villages of Jajpur district.

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