Odisha steps up relief efforts for flood survivors

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 15, 2013 13:40 hrs

Bhubaneswar, Oct 15 (IANS) Odisha Tuesday intensified relief efforts in the flood-affected areas after the water has started receding, an official said.

"We have intensified relief efforts in the affected areas as the flood water has started receding", state special relief commissioner Pradeep Mohapatra told IANS.

Air dropping of food packets has also been stopped, as all the affected places are now approachable by roads or boats, he said. "We have so far evacuated about 112,000 people. We do not think any further evacuation is required," he added.

Heavy rain brought by Cyclone Phailin that hit the state coast Saturday night triggered floods in Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur and Bhadrak districts.

More than one million people were affected when the water of major rivers and their tributaries in the region submerged low-lying areas and swamped homes.

Mohapatra said except some places of Balasore district, situation has improved.

Although the government said evacuation was not required, television channels showed footage of people stranded on house tops and high-rise embankments.

A volunteer of a nongovernmental organisation, who is engaged in relief work, said large numbers of victims were still waiting for help.

In some areas of Balasore, the situation is grim because the water level in Subarnarekha river was rising after heavy rain in the upper catchment area, revenue divisional commissioner Arabinda Kumar Padhee who is supervising the relief and rescue operation in the area told IANS.

He said more places would submerge if the river's water level rose further. The army, the National Disaster Response Force, Odisha Disaster Response Force and the state police are continuing relief operation in the affected areas, he said.

The very severe tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal which struck Saturday night near Gopalpur in Ganjam district has left a trail of destruction in the coastal districts of the state.

The worst-hit districts are Ganjam, Puri, Khordha and Gajapati.

Although damage to properties was estimated at many crore rupees, the loss of humans was minimal compared to the 1999 super cyclone that claimed over 10,000 lives.

The toll due to the latest cyclone and flooding rose to 26 as the government Tuesday confirmed five more deaths due to floods.

The low casualty figures were due to large-scale evacuation before the cyclone struck the land, officials said.

More than 10 lakh people from the low-lying coastal areas were sheltered in safer places.

While some people have returned home, large numbers of people were still living in relief camps and cyclone shelters as their houses were damaged.

According to preliminary government estimate, the cyclone and flood have affected more than a crore people in the state. More than two lakh houses have been damaged in Ganjam district.

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