On Saturday morning, as seven more gates to the world’s largest earthen dam are opened, a surge of water down the Mahanadi river is likely to inundate large swathes of land across four Orissa districts.
Nine people have already died in the floods caused after the Mahanadi breached its embankments on Friday.
<b1>Unceasing rain in Chhattisgarh, where the Mahanadi rises, has filled the 62-year-old Hirakud Dam in Western Orissa to the brim, and 26 of its 64 gates are already open to release pressure.
A massive rescue operation continued into Friday night to evacuate 2-3 lakh people. “Police are standing guard to stop people from creating embankment breaches upstream to ease water pressure in their areas situated down below,” Superintendent of Police Diptesh Patnaik said.
The Mahanadi breaches, 33 days after the Kosi smashed through embankments and flooded parts of Bihar, appear to be part of a growing worldwide trend of unseasonal, extreme weather.