Kurnool town still under water, Vijayawada threatened (Lead)

October 3rd, 2009 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Oct 3 (IANS) The flood situation in Andhra Pradesh Saturday remained grim as Kurnool town and over a hundred villages were under water for a second day while Vijayawada city and parts of Krishna district faced inundation following agonizing floods that have killed 50 people.
Although the authorities claimed that the water level in Kurnool town was receding slowly, thousands of people were trapped on rooftops, waiting for help.

Officials said the town, located on the banks of Tungabhadra and Handri rivers and about 120 km from Srisailam dam across the Krishna river, was no longer facing the threat of submergence. But the entire town, with a population of 500,000, is under five to six feet water.

People who spent Friday night in darkness and fears of total submergence began vacating the town Saturday.

Men, women and children were seen crying for help from rooftops as boats were pressed into service by the authorities and fishermen to rescue them.

Rescue workers found 16 bodies in Kurnool and Mahabubnagar, the two districts hit hard by heavy rains over the last three days, and the worst-ever floods caused by the swollen Krishna river in 100 years.

Dines Kumar, the commissioner of disaster management, said eight deaths each were reported from Mahabubnagar and Kurnool. This was in addition to 26 people reported dead till Friday.

The death toll has risen to 50 but officials warned that this could go up sharply as dozens of people were reported missing.

Kumar said over 300,000 people were evacuated from flooded areas. About 4,000 people in Kurnool and 1,000 in Mahabubnagar district were stranded.

About 90 villages on the banks of Tungabhadra and Krishna in Mahabubnagar district have been hit hard. The official said 134,000 people were evacuated to safer places in Mahabubnagar district and 105,000 in Kurnool.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah told reporters that the flood waters in Kurnool town was receding slowly.

Though the Srisailam dam across the Krishna is flowing 10 feet above its full reservoir level of 885 feet, the declining levels in Tungabhadra and Handri rivers have provided some relief to the town.

However, the authorities in Krishna and Guntur districts remained on high alert in view of huge inflows reaching Prakasam Barrage near Vijayawada.

Vijayawada, a bustling city in Andhra Pradesh, faces inundation along with dozens villages around the point where the Krishna joins the Bay of Bengal.

People were forcibly evacuated from the villages after they expressed reluctance to move out.

About 15,000 people in low-lying areas have been evacuated in Vijayawada.

Officials said 58,000 people in 28 flood-prone villages in Krishna district have also been moved to safety.

Rosaiah said he had requested Karnataka not to release water from Almatti and Narayanpur dams upstream unless it is inevitable.

Sixteen helicopters and 600 soldiers besides Disaster Management Response Force and state police are involved in rescue and relief work. The chief minister said over 200,000 food and water sachets were air dropped in the affected districts.

The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 to the kin of each of those killed in the floods. He declared a compensation of Rs.4,000 for each house fully damaged and Rs.3,000 for severely damaged.

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