Flood situation in Odisha, Andhra grim, toll mounts

Bhubaneswar/Hyderabad, Oct 25 (IANS) The flood situation in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh turned grim Friday, taking the toll in both states to 47 and 20 respectively and leaving thousands homeless, officials said.

The floods triggered by heavy rains under the influence of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal and vigorous northeast monsoon wrecked havoc in the two states, inundating hundreds of villages, damaged houses and crops over lakhs of acres.

Floods in Odisha have killed four more people, taking the toll to 47, and left thousands homeless, officials said Friday.

Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Surya Narayan Patro said several rivers were overflowing in Ganjam district, which was hit by Phailin cyclone on Oct 12.

As more than two lakh people were cut off from the rest of the state, three choppers were pressed into service for relief and rescue operations, Patro told IANS.

Four members of a family, including two minors, died in Jagatsinghpur district after the house in which they were sleeping collapsed Thursday night, Special Relief Commissioner P.K. Mohapatra said.

"The situation is serious. We are asking people to stay on rooftops. We will rescue them," he told reporters.

The government also ordered all schools and colleges in 12 districts closed till Monday.

Apart from Ganjam, the other districts affected by the latest round of rains and floods include Gajapati, Kandhamal, Khurda, Puri, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Nayagarh.

More rains are expected in the next two days.

The Bhubaneswar-headquartered East Coast Railway said train services remained disrupted between Khurda Road in Odisha and Vijayanagaram in Andhra Pradesh after flood waters submerged rail tracks in some places.

As a result, long-distance trains have been diverted.

The heavy rains have also cast a shadow over the One-Day International cricket match between India and Australia to be played at Cuttack's Barabati Stadium Saturday.

About 1.2 crore people in 17 of the state's 30 districts have affected, the government said.

In Andhra Pradesh, eight more deaths were reported Friday, taking the toll to 20. Hundreds of villages and several towns were inundated as torrential rains lashed large parts of the state.

Heavy rains hit coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana regions, damaging houses and crops over lakhs of acres and throwing normal life out of gear.

The swollen rivulets cut road links to hundreds of villages in coastal Andhra and parts of Telangana. Road and rail transport was affected due to flooding of roads and railway tracks in Srikakulam and Nalgonda districts.

About 68,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas and moved to 135 relief camps in seven districts. Thousands of people were stranded in marooned villages without food and drinking water.

Over 4,600 houses were damaged in the rains, which inundated not only hundreds of villages in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, East Godavari, West Godavari, Prakasam, Guntur, Krishna, Nalgonda and Mahabubnagar districts but also low-lying areas in Hyderabad and in Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Ongole and Eluru towns.

Normal life was hit in Hyderabad due to incessant rains, which inundated low-lying areas. Hussainsagar Lake in the heart of the city was almost full and the authorities alerted the people living in areas near the lake and abutting its discharge outlet.

Water logging on roads led to massive traffic jams in the busy areas of the state capital. Hundreds of vehicles were caught in the jams during the peak hours Friday evening.

Twelve teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) reached the affected districts and were engaged in relief work.

The rains have inundated crops over 4.34 lakh hectares including cotton crops over two lakh hectares and paddy over 2.06 lakh hectares.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation in Hyderabad and directed officials to launch rescue and relief operations.

With the met office warning of heavy rains over the next two days, the district collectors were asked to be on high alert and evacuate people from low-lying areas.

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