Orissa floods: Seven dead, one million affected, worse to come (Lead)

September 19th, 2008 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 19 (IANS) The floods in Orissa have submerged hundreds of villages, claiming seven lives and affecting around one million people, and officials Friday warned that the situation may worsen in the coming days when water released from the state’s largest reservoir to prevent it from overflowing reaches the coastal districts. All the major rivers and their tributaries are flowing above the danger level, causing floods in 15 of the state’s 30 districts.

Floodwaters of the Mahanadi river and its tributaries have caused havoc in several districts of western Orissa and people are moving to safer places, wading through knee-deep water with their belongings.

Part of Cuttack city, close to state capital Bhubaneswar, have also been inundated, residents said.

“Seven people died - two people each in Jajpur and Angul districts and one each in the districts of Keonjhar Sambalpur and Bhadrak,” said state revenue secretary G.V. Venugopala Sarma.

Officials said that rescue and relief operations were underway and that at least 30,000 people had been evacuated so far.

“The government has pressed into service two helicopters to rescue people and take them to safer places. Some people have been rescued in Bolangir and Boudh districts,” a rescue official said.

Although there was no fresh rainfall Friday, water released from Hirakud reservoir on Thursday and Friday inundated vast areas in low laying areas, officials said.

“As more water will be released, the next three days will be difficult for us,” Sarma told IANS.

Officials said the situation would worsen when water released from Hirakud reservoir reaches the interior areas of the coastal districts.

Due to heavy rains in the upper catchments areas including in Chhattisgarh, a huge quantity of water was entering the Hirakud reservoir.

The maximum capacity of the dam is 630 feet and the water level has already crossed 629 feet, an official of the state flood control room said. At least 22 gates of the dam were opened Thursday and four more gates were opened Friday.

The coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara are likely to be more affected in next three days, officials said. Schools in the districts have been closed Friday-Saturday.

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