BANGALORE/HYDERABAD: Respite from rains on Sunday improved the situation in flood-hit north Karnataka but surging waters from an overflowing
Krishna river threatened to inundate coastal districts of Vijayawada and Guntur in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, senior officials said.
“The ground situation in the 10 worst-affected districts is improving as we had a break from torrential rains that battered the northern region for three-four days,” Karnataka disaster management authority member K.K. Pradeep told IANS.
Though rescue and relief operations are on in the affected districts of Karnataka, flood waters and severe damage to roads and state highways are hampering movement of food and shelter material to the marooned villages and towns.
“The death toll remains at 170 as earlier in the day. But a total of 4,595 cattle head, including cows, bullocks, goats and sheep, have perished in flash floods and rain havoc,” state disaster management authority secretary H.V. Parashwanath said.
According to reports from the affected districts, a total of 204,268 houses have collapsed across the region. The number of villages still reeling under the rain havoc has gone up to 1,467.
“We have set up 1,211 relief camps in 12 districts, including Davangere in central part of the state to provide shelter to 356,769 people. Besides gruel and food packets, we are distributing blankets and clothes to the homeless people,” Parashwanath said.
Inordinate delay in reaching relief materials – including food and drinking water – to several villages forced the affected people to turn violent and torch six government vehicles at Talamari, about 20 km from Raichur in north Karnataka.
In Andhra Pradesh, rumours about the Tungabhadra river dam at Hospet in Karnataka bursting caused panic in Mantralaya, forcing people to flee the temple town.
“The police and officials had tough time in spiking the rumours and restoring order in the town, where flood waters started receding,” a police official told IANS on phone.
Though the deaths in the three districts of Mahaboobnagar, Kurnool and Nalgonda went up to 33 from Saturday’s 26, the flood situation remained grim as three towns and about 200 villages in the worst-hit districts remained under water.
Dinesh Kumar, commissioner (disaster management), said 15 people were killed in Kurnool district while 13 died in Mahbubnagar. The remaining deaths were reported from Nalgonda, Guntur and Krishna districts.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah undertook an aerial survey of the affected districts and was monitoring the situation in Vijayawada and Guntur where thousands have been evacuated to safer places fearing submersion from the gushing Krishna waters.
“The administration has been put on high alert and people living in low-laying areas have been asked to shift to safer places, as heavy discharge of waters from Nagarjunasagar dam and Prakasam barrage are likely to submerge several villages in the next 12-24 hours,” a senior official said in Hyderabad.
Most parts of Nandyal town in Kurnool district remained inundated due to the overflowing Kondu river.
The floods triggered by heavy rains under the influence of a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal inundated 400 villages and affected over 1.8 million people in five districts, rendering 400,000 people homeless and damaging thousands of houses. The floods also destroyed standing crops, civic infrastructure, electricity and telecom facilities and paralysed road and rail transport.
The water level at the Srisailam dam continued to be 10 feet above its capacity of 885 feet.
The state government has pressed eight Mi helicopters and six Chetak choppers of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in rescue and relief operations.
“About 22 tonnes of relief material consisting of foodgrain, blankets and medicines have been rushed to the affected areas so far,” the senior government official added.