Orissa flood toll rises to 48, Advani carries out aerial survey (Lead)

September 24th, 2008 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 24 (IANS) The flood situation in Orissa continued to be grim with the death toll Wednesday rising to 48. Three air force helicopters dropped relief material as Leader of Opposition Lal Krishna Advani undertook an aerial survey of the flood-hit areas.Floods in the Mahanadi river and its tributaries following incessant rains have hit about 4 million people and the situation, officials said, continued to be grim Wednesday.

“It is still grim in some areas of coastal districts,” state revenue secretary G.V. Venugopala Sarma told media persons.

Incessant rain has affected the relief and rescue operation and officials said at least 50,000 people in about 827 villages were still marooned.

Eleven people died in the Cuttack district and 8 people died in the coastal district of Puri, officials said.

“It is an unprecedented flood and the relief announced by the central government is inadequate,” Advani said here after visiting the flood affected areas.

He said the central government should not discriminate against Orissa on political consideration.

“The centre must also in cooperation with the state governments focus on long term flood control measures in states such as Bihar, Assam and Orissa,” he said.

Officials said that relief operations have been stepped up.

Over 1,000 personnel including navy and paramilitary troopers carried out relief and rescue operations Wednesday. Over 1,500 boats have been pressed into service.

Three air force helicopters dropped food packets, water and medicines in the worst affected areas.

Desperate for relief after days of being marooned without food and shelter, the flood hit people blocked roads and attacked officials in several places.

With their miseries deepening by the day, frustrated people hit out at relief distribution teams.

In Nuagaon village in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur, for instance, clashes between two groups led to at least nine people being hurt, including a policeman.

Irate victims also locked the office of the block development officer complaining of irregularities in relief distribution.

Similar clashes broke out in the worst hit districts of Kendrapada and Puri, officials said. Besides, hundreds of victims blocked roads Tuesday and Wednesday in several places in both districts demanding relief.

Many victims said they have not received any or inadequate relief for three days.

According to a preliminary government estimate, the losses from the floods would be over Rs.24 billion.

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