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Floods kill 16,food air-dropped as 877 villages deluged

Bhubaneswar: With 877 villages completely cut off from rest of the state due to high flood in Mahanadi river system, state government on Sunday began air-dropping of food packets in worst hit areas as the death toll rose to 16, official sources said.

"As of now three sorties were made to most affected areas of Gop, Delang/Kanas in Puri district and Kujang in Jagatsinghpur," Revenue and Disaster Management minister S N Patro told reporters after making an aerial survey of flood hit areas along with chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Three choppers, two from Navy and one from Ministry of Home affairs, were engaged in dropping food packets as the district administration failed to reach the affected people due to snapping of road links. "One more Navy chopper will join in air-dropping tomorrow," the minister said.

Fifteen quintals of dry and cooked food could be dropped from choppers today, he said adding 97,117 people were evacuated from low lying areas to safe places and given food as 186 relief camps/free kitchens were opened, he said.

At least 16 persons, five from Jajpur district, three each from Kendrapara and Mayurbhanj districts, two each from Dhenkanal and Sambalpur district and one person in Bhadrak district, died in the flood which affected 13.9 lakh people.

"There are reports of six persons being swept away in Nayagarh and Bargarh district," said Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra.

The situation is likely to improve tomorrow as water- level at Hirakud dam fell to 628.08 feet with reduced inflow into the reservoir, Water Resources department secretary Suresh Mohapatra said.

While 6,38,139 cusec of water was entering into the reservoir, the outflow was recorded at 6.25,434 cusec.

Only 35 sluice gates were kept open to discharge water as 24 gates were closed. "Twelve more gates will be closed soon," Mohapatra said, adding that quantum of water flowing through Munduli and Naraj also came down.

As the delta region experienced the peak flood of the season during the last 24 hours, at least 22 breaches had been seen at different places in Mahanadi river system inundating a large number of villages and agricultural land.

"Gop town near Konark Temple was completely submerged due to a major breach on Kushabadra river. Another major breach was seen at Basantpur on left embankment of Daya river in the Mahanadi system," Mohapatra said.

Following breaches and submergence of vast areas, several roads including Cuttack-Banki, Choudwar-Athgarh, Sathipur- Jajpur, Barchana-Balichandrapur, Tartol-Hansura, Rahama- Khosalpur, Tirtol-Kolar and Tirtol-Posal roads were cut off, he said.

The water level in other major rivers like Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani, Brahmani, Bansadhara and Rushikulya was falling.

However, the Subarnarekha is still flowing above danger level.

He, however, said that the flood fear would continue for two more days as the river water could not be discharged into the sea due to the full moon day tomorrow. "

The water level in other major rivers like Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani, Brahmani, Bansadhara and Rushikulya was falling. However, the Subarnarekha was still flowing above danger level, the minister said.

The affected people would be given relief including cooked food for seven days, he said.

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