Flood affects 21 lakh people, claims 17 lives

Bhubaneswar: With floods in northern Orissa affecting over 21 lakh people and claiming 17 lives, the state government today pressed six helicopters and 462 boats in rescue and relief operation.

As a large number of villages were marooned in Jajpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj districts due to floods in Brahmanai, Baitarani, Budhabalang, Subarnarekha rivers and their tributaries, the government pressed the choppers of Air Force and Indian Navy into service for air-dropping food packets."

Rescue of people from marooned villages is our top priority. While choppers are engaged in air-dropping food packets, 426 boats are being used to rescue people," Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro said.

While 1.39 lakh people had been evacuated and provided food at 258 free kitchens, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked affected district administration to further evacuate people from low-lying areas of Jajpur and Kendrapara.

The chief minister`s direction followed a warning from the water resources department that tomorrow would be "crucial" for people living on both sides of Brahmani river, officials said.

While water level in all rivers were decreasing, Brahmani showed rising trend and it would further increase, Water Resources Secretary Suresh Mohapatra said.

"The officials are persuading people to shift to safe places as some people have been opposing evacuation," he said.Bari block in Jajpur district, Rajnagar, Aul and Rajkanika blocks in Kendrapara district are facing the threat of inundation, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said