Orissa seeks military help for flood relief (Lead)

June 18th, 2008 - 9:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 18 (IANS) Orissa Wednesday sought the help of the military for air dropping relief materials as floods hit more than 400 villages, affecting about 50,000 people who had taken shelter at make-shift camps. “We have already informed the defence ministry that we need two air force helicopters for air dropping relief materials and they already have given their consent,” Orissa Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal told IANS.

“We are readying at least 50,000 foods packets which will be dropped from the helicopters from Thursday in the four worst-affected blocks in the district of Balasore,” he said.

Flash floods triggered by heavy rains in the past four days have killed at least two people and hit about a million in five districts of north Orissa although the unofficial figures put the death toll at seven.

“Kadambini Hembram, a 13-year-old girl, was swept away at Nuagaon village in the district of Mayurbhanj and another girl of 4 years died in a wall collapse in Betanati in the same district,” Orissa’s joint commissioner (relief) Hemant Kumar Das said.

The floods have submerged thousands of acres of land, snapped electricity supply and disrupted road and train services in most of the affected areas.

More than 50,000 people in flood affected areas have taken shelters at road side makeshift houses, high-rise buildings and village schools, he said.

“We have deployed large number of boats and hundreds of personnel of the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and fire service in the affected areas to carry out relief and rescue operations,” he said.

All rivers in the districts of Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Bhadrak were in spate due to heavy rains caused by a depression over the Bay of Bengal and many of them were flowing above the danger level, officials said.

The water level in the Subarnarekha was 12.38 metres, a new high, against the danger level of 10.36 metres Wednesday.

The overflowing river had submerged several villages in Balasore district, Samal said.

The water level in the rivers Budhabalanga and Baitarani were also flowing over the danger level, he said. All tributaries were overflowing, triggering more floods in low lying areas, he said.

Road and railway services were disrupted in many of the flood hit areas, officials said.

Most of the trains going through the region were terminated due to water-logging on railway tracks.

The Howrah-Bhubaneswar-Howrah Dhauli Express, Bhubaneswar-Howrah Jan Shatabdi Express and Hyderabad-Howrah-Hyderabad East Coast Express were cancelled, a railway official said.

The situation was likely to worsen with rains continuing in the region and in the upper catchments areas.

Heavy to very heavy rainfall was likely to occur at a few places with extremely heavy falls (more than 25 cm) at isolated places over North Orissa, the Bhubaneswar meteorological office said in a release.

Besides, heavy to very heavy falls were likely to occur at isolated places over South Orissa during next 48 hours, it said.

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