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Orissa cyclone toll rises to 67


BHUBANESWAR, OCT 19: The death toll in Sunday's cyclonic storm mounted to 67 with the worst-hit Ganjam district accounting for 56 deaths in Orissa.

Over 1,000 people were injured in Ganjam district as the 200 kmph cyclone crashed into the State's southern coast twice flattening houses and uprooting trees and other installations, said Revenue Minister Jagannath Patnaik who is camping at Berhampur.

Four deaths were reported from Keonjhar district where three persons were washed away in a rivulet -- Sunanadi -- while another died following house collapse.

Khurda, Gajapati and Puri districts reported two death search while one death occurred in Dhenkanal.

The cyclone, which also hit several other coastal districts partially, had affected a total of five lakh people, according to preliminary official reports received here. About 1.5 lakh people in 60 villages of Ganjam district had been worst-hit in the calamity, the reports said.

While restoration work was being undertaken on war-footing to bring backnormalcy in Ganjam, air-dropping of food packets began in several marooned pockets in the district.

However, the work was seriously impeded as the defence helicopter requisitioned by the government for the work had not yet reached Bhubaneswar. The air-dropping, however, was being taken up by deploying a small chopper, the sources said.

Official sources said that 33 deaths were reported from Berhampur town alone, mainly caused by house collapse and uprooting of trees. Nearly 25,000 houses had either collapsed or damaged in the town.

An official spokesman told reporters in Bhubaneswar that engineers were busy restoring the National Highway no. 5 which had been damaged due to flooding between Chatrapur and Berhampur while bulldozers and payloaders were being used to clear the highway obstructed by fallen trees.

As about 30 electric pylons had collapsed under the impact of the cyclone plunging the entire district into darkness since Sunday night, work was being taken up to restore power supply.

Effortswere on to provide electricity to one-third of Berhampur town by tonight so that water supply could be restored. If necessary, assistance of the army would be sought to deal with the situation, he said.

Train services between Khurda road and Palasa, which had been disrupted after the tracks were damaged, were restored on Tuesday after one of the tracks was repaired and opened to traffic.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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