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Flood situation grim

india Updated: Sep 20, 2008 19:35 IST

Thousands more were evacuated by Saturday morning in Orissa, where floods have submerged hundreds of villages, claimed seven lives and affected around one million people. Officials said that floodwaters had now entered many more areas and the situation had worsened.

Mahanadi river and its tributaries are flowing above the danger level in several places in western and coastal districts, breaching embankments and causing devastation, an official said. Fifteen of the state's 30 districts have been hit by the floods.

“According to reports received Bhubaneswar, more than 26,000 people have been evacuated in the coastal district of Kendrapada as floodwaters breached embankments in five-six places,” the officer on special duty in the state flood control room told IANS.

But officials said the exact figure of those evacuated is unclear, though it could be more than 50,000.

Officials also warned that the situation may worsen in the coming days when water released from the state's largest reservoir to prevent it from overflowing reaches more coastal districts.

Officials have requested people living in low-lying areas to move to safer places.

"Some people have been evacuated. But a large number of people are moving out on their own to safer places, wading through knee-deep water with their belongings," Ranjan Mohanty, a social activist camping in one of the flood-hit regions, told IANS.

Although there has been no fresh rainfall in the past two days, water released from the Hirakud reservoir on Thursday and Friday inundated many low-lying areas, officials said.

Due to heavy rains in the upper catchment areas, including in Chhattisgarh, a huge quantity of water was entering the Hirakud reservoir.

The maximum capacity of the dam is 630 feet and the water level has already crossed 629 feet, an official of the state flood control room said. Authorities have opened at least 46 gates of the dam, including six on Saturday.

The coastal districts of Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada are the worst-hit and are likely to face more floods in the next two days, officials said. Schools in the districts were closed on Friday and Saturday.