Orissa flood situation improves, victims await relief (Lead)

June 21st, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 21 (IANS) The flood situation in Orissa showed signs of improvement Saturday with water levels in the rivers of the affected regions receding but thousands of people continued to struggle for food and shelter. “The water levels in all the five rivers that triggered floods have come down to below danger levels and some below warning levels,” a senior official of the state flood control room told IANS.

Flood waters also started receding in villages and affected towns, he said.

“At least four helicopters of the Indian Air Force Saturday dropped food packets in the worst hit district of Balasore, where more than 800,000 people have been affected by the disaster,” the official said.

According to preliminary information reaching here, the number of affected in the flood that hit five districts has gone up to 1.26 million and may increase, he said.

Officials said the flood had claimed at least three lives though unofficial sources put the death toll at seven.

While food packets were being dropped from helicopters, thousands of flood victims continued to struggle for food, shelter and clothes, congress leader Jayanarayan Mohanty told IANS from Balasore.

The relief had not yet reached a large number of people, he said.

Also, the main problem now was the fear of an epidemic, he said.

The state government said it had sent 33 medical teams to the affected areas.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Saturday took stock of the situation and directed collectors of all flood prone districts to keep food stocks ready in every village council office which can last at least a month.

He instructed the collectors to take this measure by Sunday evening, a senior official of his office told IANS.

The state government has decided to prepare a long term flood control plan within one and a half months and will seek funds from the central government, he said.

The flood left thousands of tourists, mostly from neighbouring West Bengal, stuck in Orissa’s Puri town as roads and a railway track were washed away.

“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, 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 had 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.

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