Two districts in Odisha hit by floods after Phailin; 2.5 lakh marooned
Bhubaneswar/Visakapatnam: Heavy rains in the aftermath of Cyclone Phailin triggered floods in Odisha today with over 2.5 lakh people being marooned in Balasore–one of the two worst hit districts along with Mayurbanj– and several rivers were in spate.
As massive relief works moved into top gear after the storm that hit the eastern coast in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh on Saturday night left a trail of destruction, mainly in the eastern state, the situation due to floods caused by cyclone induced rainfall in the two districts was described by an official as critical.
A cargo ship was also presumed sunk in rough seas caused by the cyclone off the coast of West Bengal but its crew of 17 Chinese nationals and an Indonesian were rescued today, Coast Guard sources said in Kolkata.
Major rivers like Budhabalanga and Subarnarekha are in spate following sudden inflow of water, according to Odisha Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra. Bhadrak district was also affected while flood fury loomed large over Ganjam district, the worst hit by the cyclone.
Teams from Army, Navy and IAF besides NDRF and ODRAF were deployed for rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas in Odisha.
The death toll in the impact of the cyclone rose to 27 with four people being killed in the floods in Mayurbanj and Bhadrak districts. Phailin has dissipated but the heavy rains and floods in its aftermath is a cause of concern, a minister from Odisha said.
"We are starting air-dropping of food packets in Balasore district immediately … The flood situation in the district is a cause of concern," state Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro said.
Mohapatra said the flood situation in Balalsore district was 'critical' with flood waters of Budhabalang river inundating villages in Remuna, Balasore sadar, Jaleswar and Bhograi blocks.
Patro said besides flooding the four blocks in Balasore, Budhabalang has also inundated 10 blocks in neighbouring Mayurbhanj district. Besides Baripada, the district headquarter town of Mayurbhanj, Betanati and Badasahi blocks have been severely hit in the floods.
Hundreds of thousands of people who fled the country's strongest cyclone in 14 years also returned home to scenes of devastation, as rescue teams started repairing flooded towns, tangled power lines and tens of thousands of destroyed thatch homes.
In Andhra pradesh, officials said rescue and relief operations were in full swing and they expect normalcy to be restored in cyclone-hit Srikakulam district in a couple of days.
Heavy rains also claimed the lives of two persons–one each in Bihar and West Bengal.
A couple of pillars of a road bridge across a river in Giridih district in Jharkand were damaged and at least 400 hutments were destroyed following heavy rains accompanied by gales in Pakur district of Jharkhand last evening, officials said today.
The crew in the ship presumed sunk were spotted in a lifeboat by a Coast Guard Dornier aircraft yesterday and were rescued from 28 nautical miles north-east of Balasore in Odisha early today, Coast Guard Commandant Rajendra Nath told PTI.
"The crew had abandoned the ship after it started sinking 24 miles south of Sagar Island. All of them are safe now and they have been sent to a hospital for check-ups," he said.
The Panama-registered MV Bingo carrying 8,000 tonnes of iron ore was sailing to China after it left the Sagar anchorage on Friday. It went missing the day after.
"However, no traces of the ship has been found yet and it is presumed to be sunk," the Coast Guard official said.
In Odisha, a senior navy officer said the military was being deployed in the flood-hit areas as per the request of the state government. "Three teams of divers of INS Chilika will participate in the rescue operation in Balasore," he said.
"We have launched joint operation with the state government in flood hit areas. At least 450 army personnel along with boats and other logistics have reached the spot. We have some more army men in reserve," the officer, who attended a flood review meeting in Bhubaneswar, said.
Giving details of the 21 deaths in the cyclone in Odisha, Mohapatra said they were reported from districts like Ganjam (9), Balasore (3), Puri (3), Nayagarh (2), Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur Khurda and Bolangir (one each).
After remaining disrupted for two days in areas hit by the cyclone in Odisha, East Coast Railway (ECoR) today fully resumed its train services after the tracks were cleared.
ECoR sources said it has now been decided to run most of the trains on normal route in scheduled timings following improvement in situation in cyclone-ravaged areas.
Train services in Howrah-Visakhapatnam section of ECoR were disrupted and cancelled on October 12 and yesterday due to the high velocity cyclone, ECoR sources said.