Bhubaneswar: Cyclone Titli claimed the lives of 12 tribals, including three children, in the Gajapati district after the cave they were hiding under to seek shelter from the rains crumbled in a rockslide that was triggered by the heavy showers on Thursday.
Meanwhile, four others who were also swept in the rockslide, continue to remain missing.
22 tribals of Baraghara village of Rayagada block in Gajapati had sought shelter in a cave located near their village on Thursday morning after the roofs of their huts got blown away due to strong winds, local officials were quoted as saying by the news agency.
However, the incessant rains caused the hillock to cave in, triggering a rockslide that swept away 16 people.
“There are reports about the death of 12 people in a landslide caused by heavy rains in Baraghara village under Rayagada block in Gajapati district. We are verifying them,” BP Sethi said.
Four people were missing and they were feared trapped under the debris, he said.
The district collector of Gajapati was asked to visit the spot to ascertain the situation and give a detailed report, he said.
After getting the report, financial assistance will be provided to the affected people as per government provisions, Sethi said.
He said the area where the landslide took place was remote and the roads to the location were blocked by uprooted trees.
A rescue team, including personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), rushed to the area which was ravaged by incessant rainfall. The cyclone had made a landfall on Thursday southwest of Gopalpur near Palasa, said an official.
Meanwhile, rescue and relief operation gained momentum as water has started receding in other areas, officials said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was reviewing the situation, was slated to undertake an aerial survey of some of the affected areas, including Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada districts.
As many as 1,27,262 people were sheltered in 963 relief centres Friday, while the NDRF and the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) were deployed to speed up rescue and relief operations, Sethi said.
Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Puri, Kandhamal and Kendrapara districts were affected by floods, he said, adding Ganjam was categorised as the “worst-affected”.
Two helicopters requisitioned from the Indian Navy are being engaged in air dropping operation in Ganjam district, said officials.
The State government cancelled the Dusshera vacation of all its employees in the southern and central division, including Bhubaneswar, in view of cyclone Titli and subsequent flooding in different parts of the State.
About 60 lakh people were affected in the cyclone and flood and normal life was badly hit in Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada districts where the flood situation remained grim as water levels in major rivers such as Rushikulya and Bansadhara crossed danger marks, official sources said.