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Orissa faces fresh floods, toll 32

Bhubaneswar: A fresh spell of floods in river Baitarani inundated 12 gram panchayats in Bhadrak and Keonjhar districts of Orissa, as waters receded in the Mahanadi delta, with the death toll on Friday climbing to 32 besides 12 others missing, official sources said.

With situation improving in the Mahanadi delta and most villages are again accessible by road or waterways, the state government suspended air-dropping of food after five days.

"There is no need now to continue air dropping of food and relief materials as water has receded in most areas in the coastal region," Chief Secretary BK Patnaik said after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the flood situation.

Fresh flood threat, however, loomed in northern districts of Keonjhar, Bhadrak and Jajpur with rivers like Baitarani, Brahmanai and Budhabalang in spate following two days of heavy rain in the upper catchment areas in Jharkhand.

The collectors of the district were alerted and asked to take measures against fresh inundation, Revenue and Disaster Management minister SN Patro said.

Six boats were diverted to Bhadrak district from Jagatsinghpur where the floods receded recently, he said.

Rivers were flowing above the danger level at Akhuapada in Bhadrak district and Anandpur in Keonjhar district, the minister said. Sources in the special relief commissioner`s (SRC) office said that 32 persons had so far died in the floods with the highest of 11 being reported from Jajpur district followed by 10 in Kendrapara district. Others died in Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Sambalpur, Puri, Bhadrak and Khurda districts.

Twelve persons were reported to be swept away or drowned in the districts of Bargarh, Nayagarh, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Cuttack, Special Relief Commissioner PK Mohapatra said.

While most of the people returned from 457 relief camps, 200 were still operating in the worst-affected districts of Kendrapara, Puri, Jajpur, Subarnapur and Jharsuguda sheltering 76,000 people, the SRC said.

Dry food was provided to the affected persons while 1,110 boats were deployed in the rescue and relief operation. About 55,016 houses were damaged in 13 districts, with district collectors told to submit damage reports within September 25.

The floods hit a population of about 27 lakh in 19 districts.

Meanwhile, the state government said that an 11-member central team was likely to visit the state any time after September 20.

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