14 killed in Andhra rains, standing crops damaged

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

HYDERABAD - Heavy rains in Andhra Pradesh in the past two days have claimed 14 lives and damaged crops over 3.7 lakh hectares, causing great misery to farmers already reeling under the impact of recent cyclones.

Rescue workers Wednesday recovered 12 bodies from a stream near Vinukonda in Guntur district as heavy rains swelled the water body and overturned the vehicle they were travelling in.

Besides the 14 dead, 15 other people were missing in rain-related incidents.

The incessant rains under the influence of a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal damaged 367,859 hectares of agriculture crops and 4,963 hectares of horticulture crops, according to a preliminary estimate of the state government.

Widespread damage to standing crops of paddy and cotton were reported from Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore, Srikakulam and Khammam districts, dashing the hopes of farmers of a bumper crop.

Farmers were shocked to see their crops damaged just as they were getting ready for harvest. Depressed over the losses, a woman farmer committed suicide in Guntur district.

The depression crossed the Andhra coast near Bapatla Wednesday morning. Heavy rains and thundershowers have been forecast in north coastal Andhra till Thursday morning.

The Telangana region, Chhattisgarh and Orissa too may receive heavy rainfall till Friday morning, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin said.

Squally winds with speed reaching up to 60 kmph are likely along the Andhra coast.

As sea conditions remained rough, fishermen were advised not to venture out into the sea.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy is to make an aerial survey of the rain-affected areas Thursday.

He directed district collectors to immediately take measures to save the paddy heaps submerged in the fields and take steps to repair breaches of roads and minor irrigation tanks.

He asked district collectors in south coastal Andhra to take all precautionary and preventive measures by evacuating people from low-lying areas if necessary.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) battalions were asked to be ready for deployment at short notice.

Laila and Jal cyclones in recent months had caused widespread damage to crops in the state, especially in the fertile south coastal region. According to officials, 635 villages in 197 mandals (blocks) were inundated. Over 100,000 people were affected by the rains and 68 houses were damaged.

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