Orissa starts post relief operation, flood toll rises to 26

Bhubaneswar: Rains hindered air-dropping of food and relief operations for the second day today and the toll mounted to 26 even as the flood waters receded in most places in the Mahanadi delta region.

Among the 26 dead, ten were from Kendrapara district followed by seven in Jajpur, three in Mayurbhanj, two each in Dhenkanal and Sambalpur districts while one each died in Bhadrak and Khurda districts, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra said.Besides, 12 people were either swept away or drowned in the districts of Bargarh, Nayagarh, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Cuttack and the bodies are yet to be recovered, he said.

Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro said though water receded in most places, people in five gram panchayats spread over three districts of Cuttack, Puri and Kendrapara remained marooned.He said for the people in such areas food will be air-dropped by Air Force and Navy helicopters.Air-dropping of food by helicopters was hampered in many places due to bad weather and the plight of the affected sheltering in the open, on river embankments, highways and high places was compounded by fresh rains triggered by a low pressure, the sources said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who reviewed the situation asked the officials to start restoration measures immediately as water receded in 19 flood hit districts affecting 21.59 lakh people."The Chief Minister has issued direction to disburse house damage assistance to the affected people by October 25," Patro said.

A preliminary report received by the state government said that at least 31,000 dwelling houses were damaged.Meanwhile, all major rivers were flowing below danger level as inflow and outflow at Hirakud dam remained below 1.4 lakh cusec.

Flow at Munduli near Cuttack which was 13.66 lakh cusec four days ago, was only 3.47 lak cusec during the day.Departments like rural development, works, health and animal husbandry were asked to start restoration work as early as possible, Patro said.