Flash floods in Odisha, one dead

Bhubaneswar: Heavy rains triggered flash floods in Odisha’s Rayagada and Kalahandi districts and claimed one life, prompting the state government to seek the help of defence forces for rescue operation.

The floods, followed by an alarming rise in the water levels in Nagavali and Kalyani rivers in Rayagada and Hati and Indravati in Kalahandi, damaged bridges and snapped road and railway connectivity in several areas, officials said.

Kalahandi District Collector Anjan Kumar Manik said one person from Thuamul Rampur block died while rescuing land slide affected villagers in the hilly district.

At least 12 villages in Kalyansinghpur and Rayagada blocks of Rayagada and many villages of four blocks in adjoining Kalahandi district were badly hit by the floods.

Four IAF helicopters have been tasked for relief and rescue operations in Rayagada district.

“As it is not possible to rescue the people through boat only by the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), the assistance of the Indian Air Force is required for the rescue operation and airdrop of relief materials. Four helicopters have been requisitioned,” said a defence official.

Noting that inclement weather persisted in the flood affected areas, Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan said IAF choppers would be pressed into service when weather conditions improve to ensure safe landing.

Helicopters would be used for rescuing people trapped on rooftops of houses submerged by flood water, besides dropping food packets and relief materials, said an official.

After reviewing the flood situation at the Special Relief Commissioner’s (SRC) office, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the control room in the SRC office is tracking the situation.

Patnaik said the ODRAF, fire service and CRPF personnel were undertaking rescue and relief.

SRC Bishnupad Sethi said road connections were affected after two bridges were washed away. A railway bridge was also damaged disrupting train services in Raygada district, he said.

Free kitchens have been set up in the affected areas and schools have been closed in Kalyansinghpur block of the badly-hit Rayagada district, Sethi said.

An East Coast Railway (ECoR) official said the floods affected train services in the Rayagada-Titlagarh railway section as a railway bridge between Theruvali and Singapur Road Railway stations was washed away.

Alert gangmen stopped a goods train which was supposed to cross the bridge and averted an accident, he said, adding at least 12 trains have been cancelled for today and tomorrow.

Restoration work is in progress on a war footing, the official said.

In Kalahandi district, torrential rains for more than 15 hours severely affected Thuamul Rampur block which is completely cut-off from rest of the district. A major road bridge between Biswanathpur and Nangabeda has also been damaged, the district collector said.

He said an ODRAF team is being sent from Balangir for rescue and relief operation.