Orissa floods toll rises to 61, water begins to recede (Lead)

September 26th, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Sep 26 (IANS) The death toll in Orissa floods rose to 61 Friday. With the water receding in the districts where over four million people were affected, relief efforts were stepped up, an official said.”The death toll in the floods has risen to 61,” a senior official of the state revenue department told IANS.

Relief work was speeded up in the state after water began to recede in the flood-hit districts.

Floods in the Mahanadi river and its tributaries following incessant rains have inundated large areas in 19 of 30 districts of the state.

Drowning and house collapse claimed all the lives lost, while four people are still missing, officials said.

The worst-hit areas are the coastal districts of Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack and Puri where tens of thousands of victims are still taking shelter on embankments, high rise buildings and national highways.

“Flood waters started receding in several parts of the affected areas Friday and relief works were stepped up,” state Revenue Secretary G.V. Venugopala Sarma told IANS.

“All areas are now within our reach. In some places where we cannot reach through boats or by roads, we are reaching the victims by dropping relief materials using helicopters,” he said.

As flood waters could spread diseases, the government is making every effort to provide safe drinking water and medicines, an official said.

Over 20,000 people were treated over the past two days for water-borne diseases, respiratory tract infections and skin ailments, he added.

A large number of doctors were camping in the affected areas.

“The next one week will be challenging for us,” said a doctor camping in the worst hit Kendrapada district.

At least 377,000 people were evacuated in the past five days and flood damaged an estimated 134,000 houses, the oficial said.

Many victims said they have not received any relief, while some said they have received inadequate relief.

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

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