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Flood situation grim, toll 40

Special Correspondent

Many rivers in State in spate; Srikakulam town virtually marooned

HYDERABAD: The flood situation in Andhra Pradesh turned grim on Friday as torrential rains in the wake of the weakening depression left a trail of death and destruction in North Coastal Andhra and later inundated large areas in North Telangana.

Srikakulam, the town with a population of over one lakh, was virtually marooned as water gushed into habitations from the Nagavali after the swollen river breached an embankment. Several localities in the town were under neck-deep water. However, the National Highway to Visakhapatnam was open.

At least 40 persons died in rain and floods in hundreds of villages in Srikakulam (toll three), Vizianagaram (14) Visakhapatnam (12), East Godavari (nine), Khammam (one) and Adilabad (one) districts. The toll may mount since the exact number of deaths in a massive landslip in Vizianagaram are not yet known. An alarming situation prevailed in Khammam district as the Godavari crossed the third danger level of 53 ft in the evening at Bhadrachalam. The authorities fear that the rapid rate at which the mighty river is rising, its level may touch the 63-feet mark, the highest in two decades, at this famous temple town by Saturday morning. In this event, hundreds of villages downstream are likely to be inundated.

Relief camps

Flights were suspended from Visakhapatnam for the second day as the tarmac as well as the approach roads leading to the airport were water- logged. Train services were dislocated on the Visakhapatnam-Koraput and Visakhapatnam-Kirandul sections due to landslips. In Hyderabad, normal life was affected by intermittent rain.

Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy is leaving on a two-day tour of the flood-affected areas in North Coastal Andhra on Saturday morning. After making an aerial survey of Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts, he will visit the scene of the landslide in Vizianagaram and go to East Godavari on Sunday.

Earlier, reviewing the flood situation at a high-level meeting, Dr. Reddy announced a relief package consisting of ex gratia of Rs. 50,000 to families of those who died, 20 kg of rice and five litres of kerosene to each affected family, Rs. 2,000 for each damaged house and Rs. 500 for purchase of utensils and clothes. Disaster Management Commissioner Debabrata Kanta said about 20,000 people had so far been shifted to 50 relief camps.

In the worst incident, 11 girijans, including seven children, were crushed to death by a massive boulder that slid from a hillside and rammed into huts in Vankavadi village in Gummalakshmipuram village of Vizianagaram district. The bodies lay trapped under the boulder as no crane could be taken to the interior village. A similar landslip in Araku Valley left six persons dead and 21 injured.

50 fishermen missing

In East Godavari, three members of a family were killed when a tree fell on a tea shop. About 50 fishermen from Kakinada, reported missing in the sea since Wednesday, were untraceable despite search by Coast Guard.

Koheda in Khammam district recorded an unprecedented 360 mm, Kaleswaram 290 mm, Eturunagaram and Ranasthalam 260 mm each. The rainfall in the last two days in several districts has surpassed the normal quantity for the entire month of August. All reservoirs across the Krishna as well as 14 medium irrigation projects are full. An enormous quantity of five lakh cusecs was released into the sea from Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada leading to inundation of some low-lying areas in the city.

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