Andhra rains cause havoc, toll rises to 25

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HYDERABAD - Heavy rains in coastal Andhra Pradesh during the last four days have claimed 25 lives so far, with five more deaths reported Wednesday, forcing chief minister K. Rosaiah to ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for central assistance.

“At least six districts received 1,000-times excess rainfall during last four days, causing widespread damage to houses and crops. As many as 1,018 villages were inundated and 600,000 people were affected by the rains,” Rosaiah wrote in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday, requesting for relief funds.

The letter also added that 9,694 houses were destroyed while another 87,390 houses were damaged.

Hundreds of villages and parts of some towns are still submerged as rivers and reservoirs are overflowing, and irrigation tanks have breached in at least six districts.

Crops sown over 230,000 hectares in 10 districts have been damaged.

“Rains have caused extensive damage to paddy crops,” minister for agriculture Raghuveera Reddy told reporters in Vijayawada.

In Krishna district alone, crops over an area of 50,000 hectares were damaged. The minister promised all possible assistance to the farmers.

The death toll in north and south coastal Andhra rose to 25 with five more deaths reported Wednesday. Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts accounted for 10 and seven deaths, respectively.

Two persons were killed in Nellore, Prakasam and Anantapur districts each, while Chittoor and West Godavari districts accounted for one death each.

Farmers were devastated by the massive damage to the standing crops. They were expecting a bumper crop due to adequate southwest monsoon rains, but the downpour has destroyed thousands of acres of paddy crop in the fertile coastal region.

Hundreds of villages still remain under water. Over 30,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas and shifted to relief camps.

Several colonies in Machlipatnam town of Krishna district are still inundated. Breached irrigation tanks have flooded fields, houses, roads and even railway tracks in some areas, affecting transport services.

Even as the region is reeling under the rain fury, a cyclone threat has added to its troubles.

The Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre has forecast that a depression, currently over south Andaman sea, may intensify into a cyclonic storm and move towards south Andhra Pradesh and north Tamil Nadu coasts in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Heavy rains are predicted in the coastal Andhra districts between Nov 5 and 7 due to this cyclonic storm. Authorities have warned fishermen against venturing into the sea.

In Hyderabad, the chief minister reviewed the situation with his cabinet colleagues and senior officials. He directed the district collectors to take all necessary steps to minimise the loss of life and property.

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