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Flood: Gujarat toll reaches 123

Source: PTI
July 02, 2005 16:22 IST

With torrential rains continuing unabated in Gujarat for the seventh day on Saturday, the death toll has risen to 123 even as the army, navy and air force personnel, that were carrying out rescue operations, have evacuated more than 2.5 lakh people.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil conducted an aerial survey of some parts of Ahmedabad district on Saturday morning, but he had to cut short his survey of the worst affected areas of Vadodara and other districts due to bad weather.

"The state government has appealed to the Centre to send more army personnel," government spokesperson Kaushik Patel said.

The situation is likely to worsen as the Meteorological department has forecast heavy rains on Saturday and Sunday.

Army, navy, air force and the Rapid Action Force are working round-the-clock to provide help to the flood-affected people.

The administration is taking the help of helicopters to drop food packets and water pouches in the flood-affected regions of the state, which is being battered with heavy rains.

As many as 40 army boats had been air-lifted and 28 more were likely to be in position by Sunday morning to rescue people affected due to the flood.

Chlorine tablets and bleaching powder for providing safe drinking water were being airlifted in large quantities to the state.

Nearly two crore people have been affected by more than 100 hours of continuous torrential rains. The communication network has also been severely affected.

Marooned villages, damaged railway lines and waterlogged roads are what one finds in Gujarat.

The relentless downpour during the last seven days has prompted Chief Minister Narendra Modi to dub it as an 'aerial tsunami'.

"No living person can recollect such incessant rainfall. It has been raining continuously for 100 hours," Modi said.

The Met office said the weather was improving slowly, but it would still continue to rain for two more days.

But before the state heaves a sigh of relief, the weatherman has warned that another spell of rain, though of a lesser intensity, was likely to follow.

Official sources said the rainfall had affected over 1.78 crore people in 8,000-10,000 villages and 2.5 lakh people had been evacuated from cities alone. The evacuation in rural areas is yet to be ascertained.

The 'aerial tsunami' has led to the overflowing of 54 dams in the state. Eight have been damaged, the worst being a 30-feet breach in the 230-feet tall Pratapura dam on the outskirts of Vadodara leading to waterlogging, sources added.

If the breach does not spread, it will take three days to drain out the excess water in the reservoir, and the flooding of  Vadodara city cannot be ruled out.

Parts of Vadodara city and most areas of Anand and Kheda districts of south Gujarat are under 10-12 feet of water. Most villages and smaller cities too are inundated.

Rivers Mahisagar, Shedhi, Vatrak and Vishwamitri are in spate. The incessant rains have damaged roads, including state and national highways at 3,700 locations and even the modern expressways built using state-of-the-art technology.

The downpour has snapped rail connectivity, especially on the crucial Ahmedabad-Mumbai sector, leaving passengers stranded at several places.

According to official figures available on Friday evening, 1,000 passengers were stuck at Anand, another 2,000 at Vadodara, and 400 at Dakor in Kheda district where people had climbed onto the roof of a railway platform to escape from rising waters, the sources said.

As many as 12 helicopters of the Indian Air Force were kept ready at the Ahmedabad Airport, which is the only airport that is operational.

Vadodara Airport is non-functional for landing or take-off of planes.


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