Over 20,000 people have been evacuated and shifted to relief camps after the heavy rains wreaked havoc in southern Andhra Pradesh districts of Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore and Anantapur. More than a hundred villages, most of them in Kadapa, are presently inundated. The death toll has risen to 25 while 17 people are still missing, according to the state government officials as reported by news agency PTI.
The Indian Air Force, NDRF, SDRF, Police and Fire Services personnel saved at least 64 persons, including a police inspector, from the massive flash floods in Anantapuramu, Kadapa and Chittoor districts, the government said in a note.
Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy conducted an aerial survey of affected areas and reviewed the flood situation with the district collectors Saturday. He spoke to Collectors of Kadapa and Chittoor districts and obtained details about the devastation and asked the officials to conduct enumeration of the crop losses as soon as the floodwater receded. Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the CM over phone and assured him of all help. Officials said the situation on ground was grim on Saturday as well.
The government announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those killed.
Heavy downpour since Thursday left several rivers, canals and water bodies in Chittoor and Nellore districts overflowing. Swarnamukhi, Kalingi rivers are in spate. Low-lying areas have been marooned and several people are feared washed away. Over 32,000 hectare of agriculture and horticulture lands are damaged. More rains, moderate to heavy, are predicted to occur at isolated places over south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema regions Saturday.
Seven teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), four of them deployed in Kadapa and nine teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been pressed into rescue and relief operations. Two helicopters, one each in Kadapa and Ananthapur districts, have also been made available.
The intensity of the rainfall reduced on Saturday, but brought little respite to people as several habitations remained marooned because of the flash floods. While the situation in Tirupati town still remained grim, with many areas inundated, the scene on the holy Tirumala Hills was relatively better, though pouring rain did inconvenience pilgrims. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams reopened the ghat roads for vehicular traffic, though the two stairways meant for pilgrims to trek the Hills remained closed. Pilgrims who booked tickets online were being allowed for darshan of Lord Venkateswara.
The deluge in the Chief Minister’s native Kadapa district saw the Annamayya project getting breached and left a trail of destruction in many villages downstream under the Rajampet constituency.
More than 30 people were washed away from three villages along the Cheyyeru river course, where water from the Annamayya medium irrigation project gushed in. At one point on Friday, two lakh cusecs of floodwater flowed out of Annamayya project while its normal capacity was just two tmc ft. Kadapa, thus, reported the highest toll of 13 so far.
In Kadiri town in Anantapuramu district, a building under construction collapsed due to incessant rain and fell on an adjoining one, killing at least five persons, including two children. While four other persons came out safely from the collapsed buildings, the fate of some others is not known yet.
Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghatan Vice-Chairman Vishnuvardhan Reddy expressed grief over the tragedy and blamed illegal constructions for the incident. He demanded action against the Kadiri municipal officials responsible for this.
Thirty-five passengers stranded in three RTC buses stuck in Cheyyeru village were rescued. In a dramatic operation, ten others stranded in a canal at Veldurthy of C K Palli were airlifted. Seven others, including a circle inspector of police, were rescued in Hemadripuram.
A pregnant woman was rescued from her home in Kadapa town after water from the Buggavanka irrigation project entered her house. The fire department staff also rescued three men and 15 buffaloes from the Papagni river at Gandi in the Kadapa district.
According to the government, 230 relief camps have been set up and food, water packets and rice are being distributed to the affected people. The government is also offering financial assistance of Rs 1,000 per person or Rs 2,000 per family who have been moved into relief camps.