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Relief work stepped up in Orissa as floods kill 16

Tue, 01 Jan 2008 ANI

Bhubaneswar, Sept 21 (ANI): Relief work has been speeded up in Orissa, which is facing floods by one of India's largest rivers killing 16 people and forcing evacuation of some 200,000 at the weekend.


Large parts of the coastal Orissa were inundated after authorities were forced to open dozens of sluice gates of a dam on the Mahanadi River following heavy rain in the catchment's area.


Flood victims said though they have been saved from drowning, but all their belongings and wealth were destroyed.


"There were breaches in river embankments in our village. And the overflowing river water damaged our houses. We came here before that because government alerted us in advance but all our belongings have been destroyed. We are here from last two days but no food and no relief material is being provided," said Sukhdev Bhoi, a flood victim.


Airdropping of relief material by two Indian Air Force helicopters began on Saturday and the State Government has sought for four more helicopters to step-up the air dropping operations.


Food and other essential commodities were airdropped in Cuttack, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts on Sunday.


"Since we have conducted the evacuation program and awareness program on a large scale and our engineers and our administrators were there in the field all the people have been evacuated. We are taking steps for providing them relief in terms of cooked food and dry ration," Nikanja Sunderaj, Special Relief Commissioner told reporters in Bhubaneswar.


Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik conducted an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged districts on Saturday and said that relief measures were been undertaken.


"Seven-day relief has been announced for the affected people. More than 80,000 people have been evacuated to safer places. Boats have been pressed into service. A large number of boats have been pressed into services, medicine and other help is reaching the people and airdropping of food and other essential material is being done at moment," Patnaik told reporters in Bhubaneswar.


People were seen fleeing the floods with whatever they could carry. Some took shelter on roads and inside school buildings.


Most of the deaths were caused by drowning. The river had breached its banks in several places and floodwaters had swept away highways in some areas.


Monsoon rains and flooded rivers have brought huge devastation across South Asia this year, killing more than 1100 people, mostly in India.


The Kosi River, which burst a dam in Nepal, has heaped massive suffering on millions of people in downstream Bihar. Water levels were now receding there.


But millions were now living on embankments, roads and in overcrowded camps in filthy conditions, exposing them to infections and water-borne diseases, aid agencies say.


Authorities warned of more floods in the state's coastal belt once more water is released from the Hirakud dam on the Mahanadi.


The floods in Bihar, the worst there in 50 years, destroyed 250,000 acres of farmlands. Rice crop in Orissa had also been damaged.


The monsoon usually hits India on June 1 and retreats in September, and is key to irrigating some 60 per cent of farmland.


But it leaves in its wake massive destruction, killing hundreds of people, destroying homes, crops, roads and bridges every year. (ANI)


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