No let-up in Orissa floods

BHUBANESWAR SEPT. 6. The flood situation in Orissa again took a critical turn on Saturday following heavy downpours in the catchment areas of several major rivers in the State since yesterday. The official death toll in the floods has gone up to 31.

The rivers Banshadhara, Uttei, Hati, Bheden and Tel were in spate due to heavy rains in their catchment areas in the western and southern parts of the State. As a result, a third bout of floods was likely in Mahanadi and its distributaries by tomorrow, the Chief Secretary, Pratip Kumar Mohanty, said today.

Stating that the flood situation had turned worse than what it was on Friday, Mr. Mohanty said that "there was no room for complacency. We have to continue in top gear.''

The Madanpur-Rampur area of Kalahandi recorded 480 mm of rainfall since yesterday, while Bolangir recorded rainfall of 316 mm, Mr. Mohanty said. Heavy rainfall was likely to occur at most places in the State in the coming 48 hours under the influence of a low pressure that was lying over the Bay of Bengal off the State's coast.

As the tributaries of the Mahanadi were likely to carry fresh floods in the coastal districts due to heavy rainfall in the interior districts, the authorities have kept only six gates open at the Hirakud reservoir.

The volume of water passing at the Naraj gauge station on Mahanadi near Cuttack which had decreased to 8.43 lakh cusecs today was likely to increase up to 11 lakh cusecs tomorrow. This indicates that there will be little respite for the lakhs of people in the marooned villages of the coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Jajpur. As floods continue, reports of more diarrhoea cases have started pouring in from most of the affected districts. A total of 958 cases of diarrhoea have been reported so far, including the highest number of 285 cases from Cuttack district, the Health Secretary, R.N. Senapati, said. There had been no diarrhoea deaths so far in the flood-hit regions, he claimed.

Mr. Senapati, however, said that there had been eight diarrhoea deaths, including four in Kalahandi and four in Bargarh district. These deaths were not due to floods, he said.

Meanwhile, an Army jawan and a constable of the State police went missing when a boat capsized in the floodwaters in Niali area of Cuttack district this afternoon.

The incident occurred when the body of an Army jawan killed in Doda was being taken to his village from the Bhubaneswar airport. A total of three boats were engaged in the work and one of the boats capsized.

The local Sub-Collector and some other people who were in the boat swam to safety, while the jawan and the policeman were drowned. Their bodies had not been traced till evening.

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