Floods leave thousands of tourists stranded in Orissa

June 21st, 2008 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 21 (IANS) Thousands of tourists, mostly from West Bengal, are stuck in Orissa’s Puri town following floods that washed away roads and a railway track, an official said Saturday. “The flash floods triggered by monsoon rains washed away about one kilometre railway line between Bhadrak and Balasore and damaged an iron girder bridge,” M.D. Sahu, public relation officer of the east coast railway, told IANS.

“As a result of which at least 10 Howrah-bound trains have been cancelled in the past couple of days,” he said.

Although some trains are going through other routes, over 2,000 passengers have cancelled their tickets in Puri, he said.

The tourists complained that the affected include women and children and many of them are going from pillar to post for suitable accommodation in the temple city, 56 km from here.

84-years-old Biswanath Majumdar, a resident of Kolkata, had come with his wife last week and planned to return Wednesday. Majumdar had return tickets but the train was cancelled.

He has been going to the railway station every day to find out if the train has started running. “Some trains are going through other routes, but we are not able to get berths,” Majumdar told IANS.

Thousands of passengers are facing trouble, he said.

About 200 tourists Friday staged a protest in the town demanding alternate arrangements so that they could get home, said a district administration official.

“We are trying to arrange at least 10-20 buses to send them home,” he said.

At least three people were killed and one million people were affected by the floods that hit five districts of north Orissa. The unofficial death toll was seven.

Thousands of flood victims continued to struggle to get food Saturday, though two Indian Air Force helicopters dropped food packets.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Friday requested the central government to send at least three more helicopters to speed up the relief operations.

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