After Bihar, now Orissa faces Flood fury

Orissa remained on the edge as the swirling waters of river Mahanadi and its tributaries wrought severe devastation, badly hitting around 24 lakh people in 17 of the states 30 districts. The surging waters have marooned nearly six lakh people in 850 villages, with road communication to towns like Puri, Konark, Banki, Athagarh and Athamallick completely cutoff. With the rivers deltaic region under threat, reports of boat capsizing, walls collapsing and human and cattle drowning trickled in, raising the death toll to at least 21.With the weatherman predicting more rains at some places and the Mahanadi river system continuing to swell at several places, lakhs of people kept their fingers crossed and prayed for safety. Having seen their houses and belongings swept away, fear-stricken villagers perched on roads, embankments and even national highways awaiting relief. Women, children and the old and infirm were struggling to cope up with natures fury as food eluded the victims at several places. Having pressed the panic button and demanded the Centre to declare the disaster as a national calamity, the state government launched all-out measures to battle the crisis, engaging in air-dropping of relief stuff as well as dispatching materials by road. But that seemed too little, as tales of victims woes began. ‘‘The airdropped food packets are landing in the flood waters. What is the use?’’ asked Prasanna Dash of Garadpur area in Kendrapada. Another flood victim Radhamani Dei of Patkura area said: ‘‘We haven’t even got a sheet of polythene to save ourselves from the rains. We’re rotting on the roadside.’’ Officials said three more choppers, in addition to the three helicopters are slated to arrive soon for rescue operations.

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