Heavy rains swelled two major rivers causing flash floods in Odisha’s Rayagada district, prompting the State government to seek the help of defence forces, as four IAF choppers were pressed into service for relief and rescue operations, government officials said on Sunday.

The flash floods, followed by an alarming rise in the water levels in the Nagavalli and the Kalyani rivers inundated vast areas, causing extensive damage to bridges and snapping road and railway connectivity in several areas, the officials said.

Four Mi-17 V5 helicopters of IAF have been tasked for the relief and rescue operations. The choppers, detached for Op-Triveni under the Central Air Command, based at Raipur/Jagdalpur, were on a standby awaiting weather clearance.

“As it is not possible to rescue the people through boat, Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and the assistance of Indian Air Force are required for the rescue operation and airdrop of relief material in the affected areas of Rayagada district. Four helicopters have been requisitioned,” said a defence official.

Several areas in adjoining Kalahandi district were also severely affected by the floods caused by incessant rains, disrupting road and rail communications, they said.

File photo of floods in Odisha

“There are flash floods in Kalyansinghpur of Rayagada caused by the rivers Nagavalli and Kalyani,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said after reviewing the flood situation at an emergency meeting held at the office of the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC).

“No effort will be spared to ensure the safety of the people,” the Chief Minister said.

Noting that inclement weather persisted in the flood affected areas at present, Development Commissioner R. Balakrishnan said IAF choppers would be pressed into service when weather conditions improved to ensure safe landing.

A bridge washed away in the flash flood / Source: ANI tweet

Helicopters would be used for rescuing a large number of people trapped on rooftops as their houses had been submerged by flood water besides dropping food packets and relief materials, said an official.

SRC Bishnupad Sethi said two bridges had been washed away causing disruption of road connections, while a railway bridge was also damaged disrupting train services.

A road link between Rayagada and Bhawanipatna has been snapped as flood water is flowing on a major road.