Heavy rains caused by cyclone Phailin triggered floods in major rivers in five districts of Odisha today with over 2.5 lakh people marooned in worst-hit Balasore as the twin calamity affected over 1.2 crore people and the death toll has risen to 25.
The death toll in the impact of the cyclone has risen to 25 with four people being killed in the floods in Mayurbanj and Bhadrak districts. Phailin, which claimed 21 lives, has dissipated but the heavy rains and floods in its aftermath is a cause of concern, Odisha Revenue and Disaster Management minister S N Patro said.
Apart from Balasore, four other districts - Mayurbhanj, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Keonjhar came under the surging flood waters as major rivers like Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Baitarani and Jalaka were in spate, Patro said.
The twin calamity of cyclone and the resultant floods affected over 1.2 crore people in the state as more than 10.13 lakh people were evacuated to safe places, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Mohapatra said.
Teams from Army, Navy and IAF besides NDRF and ODRAF were deployed for rescue and relief operations in the flood-affected areas in the state while air dropping of food packets was launched in Balasore where 7.1 lakh people were affected by floods, the SRC said.
Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central), Aravind Padhee, who is camping in Balasore to monitor relief work, said as many as 930 villages in 12 blocks were affected by floods in the district.
Mohapatra said the flood situation in Balasore district was 'critical' with flood waters of Budhabalang river inundating villages in Remuna, Balasore sadar, Jaleswar and Bhograi blocks.
Patro said besides flooding many areas 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.
In Jajpur district, 102 villages under 34 gram panchayats of three blocks were affected by flood in river Baitarani, district Collector Anil Samal said.
Baitarani was flowing at 19.89 metre at Akhuapada as against the danger level of 17.83 metre, he said adding relief and free kitchens have been arranged for the affected people and personnel of Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) were deployed for rescue and relief.
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, the SRC said they were reported from districts like Ganjam (9), Balasore (3), Puri (3), Nayagarh (2), Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur Khurda and Bolangir (one each). Similarly, four people - two each in Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak - were killed in floods following heavy rains after the cyclone.
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.
However, supply of electricity and water was yet to be restored in vast coastal belt except a few VVIP areas of the state capital.
The opposition Congress accused the Naveen Patnaik administration of failing to deal with the twin calamities.
Asking Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to be realistic and not propagandist, Congress rejected Odisha government's claim that it undertook the country's biggest ever evacuation operation by shifting over 9 lakh people to safe place ahead of cyclone Phailin.
"Odisha Government's claim about evacuation of 9 lakh people to safe places is a false propaganda. People of coastal areas moved to safe places on their own after getting reports about 'Phailin' with speed of 300 kmph from media," Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Jaydev Jena said in a statement.