Thousands evacuated in India's Orissa state as villages submerged

Other News Materials 20 September 2008 16:28 (UTC +04:00)

Thousands of people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Orissa state's coastal districts Saturday as the Mahanadi river breached its embankments after days of incessant rain, officials and news reports said.

The floodwaters submerged hundreds of villages and claimed seven lives, an official of the flood-control room in the state capital Bhubaneshwar said.

"We have received reports that more than 26,000 people have been evacuated in the coastal district of Kendrapada alone as floodwaters have breached embankments in several places," S Das said.

He said several thousand more were being evacuated in the coastal districts as it was feared that a large amount of water released from the Hirakud reservoir on the Mahanadi may flood areas downstream, dpa reported.

The army had been asked to stand by in case the situation worsened.

Due to heavy rains, a huge quantity of water was entering the Hirakud reservoir, the largest in Orissa and the water level near the maximum level of 630 feet forcing authorities to open more sluice gates, IANS news agency reported.

The flood situation was also grim in parts of western Maharashtra and Gujarat states, officials at the National Disaster Management Department said.

Heavy rains continued in Gujarat for the sixth consecutive day submerging hundreds of villages in western Daang and Navsari districts. Four deaths were reported and the army and fire brigade were helping local administrations in rescue and relief operations.

The situation in Nashik district of Maharashtra was improving but several villages, towns and bridges were still flooded with several feet of water.

India's rainy season which lasts from June to September has so far affected more than eight states and left 2,203 people dead and millions homeless.

The worst-affected region has been the eastern state of Bihar, where vast tracts of land were flooded after the Kosi river breached its banks in neighbouring Nepal.