With the situation remaining grim in the flood-hit 17 districts of Orissa,, rescue and relief operation were on Sunday stepped up including air dropping food packets and essentials for people affected by the deluge that had claimed 16 lives.
Describing the floods as that of "rare severity", a senior official that nearly 20 lakh people in 110 blocks in 17 districts were affected by the calamity.
The situation continued to be grim as Mahanadi and its tributaries which were in spate for the last four days caused at least 32 breaches.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who undertook an aerial survey of the affected areas, has asked the Centre to declare the floods as a 'National Disaster' and immediately release Rs 1500 crore assistance from the National Calamity Contingency Fund for relief and rehabilitation.
The government machinery geared up to intensify relief work and and air dropping of relief materials, medicines and water pouches in different flood affected areas, the sources said.
Describing the recent flood as the most furious in last 55 years, the engineer-in-chief of water resource department HC Behera said the maximum flow of water at Munduli near Cuttack was this time recorded at 15.81 lakh cusec against the previous highest of 15.80 lakh cusec in 1982.
Water level in the Hirakud dam near Sambalpur in western Orissa stood at 629.50 feet this morning as against its maximum capacity of 630 feet, they said.