Bangalore/Hyderabad, Oct 02: At least 130 people have been killed in Karnataka and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh in heavy rain since Wednesday and army boats and air force helicopters on Friday began to rescue hundreds of people marooned at several places.
One hundred and four people have died in six north Karnataka districts and 26 in Andhra Pradesh in the torrential rain caused by a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal.
Hundreds of people in the two states were trapped in flood waters and were waiting on rooftops and higher places to be rescued. Thousands more have been rendered homeless.
In Karnataka, the maximum number of 29 deaths were reported from Bijapur.
"Ovger 40,000 houses have been damaged," a spokesperson for the Karnataka revenue ministry told agency.
He said five helicopters and 40 boats have been deployed for rescue and relief operartions. Over 85 relief centres have been set up, he added.
In Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said the flood situation was grim and army personnel have been deployed for rescue operations.
Six helicopters have been pressed into service to rescue people. While four helicopters are being used to airlift the flood-hit in Kurnool district, two choppers were deployed in Mahabubnagar district. A helicopter rescued 15 people in the famous pilgrim town of Mantralayam.
Six power boats of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation were also being used to rescue people.
According to reports reaching the Karnataka state disaster management office here, the majority of deaths till Friday morning have occurred in Bijapur (29), Gulbarga (13), Raichur (11), Koppal (10), Bagalkot (10), Davangere (9) and Bellary (8), Belgaum (6). Gadag (5), Bidar (2) and Chikkballapur (1)
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa Friday met senior civil, military and police officials here to decide the plan for rescue and relief operations in the seven affected districts.
The state government has released Rs.100 crore to provide immediate relief.
"Rescue and relief operations are in full swing in the worst-affected districts. Army troops and air force helicopters are being pressed into service to rescue the marooned and drop food packets in areas cut-off by flood waters," chief minister`s media adviser R.P. Jagdish told agency here.
"Relief material is being rushed to the areas where the situation is critical. Hundreds of people living on river banks or low-laying areas have been shifted to safer places. The families of flood victims are being given 100,000 rupees from the state`s calamity relief fund," Jagdish added.
The Tungabhadra, a major river in north Karnataka, and several rivulets, steams and tanks were full and overflowing water flooded nearby areas and cut off road and other communications.
In the worst floods in the Krishna river in 100 years in Andhra Pradesh 26 lives have been lost while thousands of people remained trapped in flood waters in Kurnool and Mantralayam towns and dozens of villages in Kurnool and Mahabubnagar districts.
Revenue and Relief Minister Dharmana Prasad Rao said 120 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force based in Arakkonam, Tamil Nadu, were rushing to Andhra Pradesh for rescue operations.
Rosaiah spoke to Defence Minister A.K. Antony and union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to seek the help of defence and paramilitary forces for rescue and relief.
Andhra Pradesh Special Police (APSP) battalions were also deployed for rescue and relief.
The unprecedented inflows in Srisailam across the Krishna river following heavy rain in upstream Karnataka have triggered the worst floods in the Krishna basin in 100 years.
Floods in the Tungabhadra river and its tributaries added to the misery of people in five districts, especially in Kurnool and Mahabubnagar.
Almost the entire Kurnool town, about 250 km from state capital Hyderabad, and Mantralayam town in Kurnool district are marooned.
The floods have hit over a million people. In Kurnool district alone, half a million people were affected. Officials said 100,000 were shifted to relief camps.
Hundreds of villages in Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Krishna and Guntur districts were cut off following incessant rain over the last two days under the influence of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal.
The continuing massive inflows in Srisailam, downstream Nagarjuna Sagar and Prakasam barrage posed a flood threat to several villages in Nalgonda, Guntur and Krishna districts. As a precautionary measure, the authorities have begun evacuating people from low-lying areas in Vijayawada city in Krishna district.
The Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers are reaching danger levels while several rivulets are overflowing. Over 350 tanks have breached, inundating towns and villages in the affected districts.
Flood waters from Srisailam have flooded Kurnool town, while the Tungabhadra`s waters have gushed into Mantralyam town, 120 km from Kurnool town.
The bus station in Mantralayam town is under water. Some passengers have climbed to the top of the building. The Raghuvendraswamy temple is completely under water, officials said.
The chief minister has asked all district collectors to remain on high alert as weather experts have forecast more rain till Tuesday. According to the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, heavy rain under the impact of the low pressure area was likely in north coastal Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema regions.
Meanwhile, road and rain transport to Rayalseema was badly hit by the floods. The state road transport corporation has stopped all buses to the region, comprising worst-hit Kurnool and three other districts.
Since the Hyderabad-Bangalore national highway is under water at several points, road transport between the two cities has come to a halt.
Train services, too, were hit by the floods. As many as 15 trains to the region were cancelled. A part of the track was washed away near Mantralayam, forcing the authorities to either cancel or divert trains, including those going to Bangalore.
It is not just the common man who is trapped in the flood waters in Andhra Pradesh but MPs, state legislators and other public representatives too are hit by the natural calamity.
In the worst-hit Kurnool district, at least three legislators are among the affected people. While one legislator is trapped in Mantralayam town, water gushed into the houses of two other legislators and one MP in Kurnool town.
In Karnataka district-in=charge ministers are supervising the rescue and relief operations in their respetive area and chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said he will make an aerial survey on Oct 4.
On Friday morning he met senior civil, military and police officials in Bangalore to review the rescue and relief efforts so far.
Though the southwest monsoon season, which began in June, usually withdraws from the Indian subcontinent around this time but a depression in the Bay of Bengal and heavy cloud formations in the Arabian Sea have led to heavy rain in the two states.
Meterological officials in Bangalore said there was possibility of rain continuing till Sunday.
PM has offered all Central help: Rosaiah
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
tonight assured Andhra Pradesh of all help from the Centre to
cope with the situation arising out of the calamity triggered
by the "unprecedented" flood in the state.
The assurance was given to Chief Minister K Rosaiah who
spoke to him over phone.
"The Prime Minister assured all help from the central
government," Rosaiah told reporters.
He told the Prime Minister that it is for the first time
in the history of Andhra Pradesh that so much flood water has
been gushing into and out of Srisailam dam.
Rosaiah also spoke to Home Minister P Chidambaram and
Defence Minister A K Antony seeking their help in conducting
relief and rescue operations.