12 feared dead in landslide in cyclone-hit Odisha

Asika: Local volunteers load food packets into a Naval helicopter at Rangeilunda airstrip for air dropping in the flood affected area at Asika in Ganjam district of Odisha (Photo: IANS)

Bhubaneswar (IANS): The Odisha government on Saturday rushed a team of rescuers after local media reported that 12 persons, including five children, lost their lives while four others were missing due to a landslide in Gajapati district.

The incident occurred in Barghara village under Gangabada panchayat under Rayagada block when the cave, in which they had taken shelter, collapsed following incessant rain triggered by cyclone Titli on Thursday.

However, the officials are yet to confirm the exact death toll.

"There are reports about the death of 12 people and missing of four persons in a landslide caused by heavy rains in Baraghara village in Gajapati district. We are verifying the reports," said Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Bishnupada Sethi.

He said they can only confirm the death toll after the team returns from the spot.

The SRC said the team would have to trek about 17 km, cutting the trees to reach the spot.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed condolence over the tragic incident.

"The tragic incident of landslide in Gajapati has been most unfortunate. I extend my deepest condolence to the bereaved families," said the Chief Minister.

Chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said a team comprising of Gajapati district Superintendent of Police, sub-collector, doctors and other officials have gone to the landslide area.

He said the accident spot is located at the border of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh and Raighar block and it is inaccessible.

With the opposition parties questioning the poor handling of the natural calamity and the government's zero casualty claim, the Chief Minister said, "If the opposition parties want to criticise, they can do so. We are busy in relief and rehabilitation works."

He said after a proper assessment of damage, the state government would place its demand before the Centre for assistance.

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