Cattle carcasses add to disease threat in India

THE CARCASSES of dead cattle floated in the streets of cyclone-ravaged towns in eastern India yesterday, raising fears of disease epidemics four days after a powerful storm struck miles of coastline.

Food shortages led to riots in the state of Orissa as rescue teams struggled along impassable roads in an effort to bring aid to millions of people.

The death-toll is still unknown, as is the full extent of the damage wreaked by the cyclone, the second to hit the poverty-stricken state in less than two weeks.

State Minister Jagannath Patnaik was quoted as saying that 250 people had been killed, but officials said the figure could reach 5,000. It is feared that up to 15 million people may have been left homeless or be seeking temporary shelter.

A helicopter carrying the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, was mobbed by hungry people when it landed in the devastated fishing port of Paradip, which bore the brunt of the storm. The Indian air force dropped 31 tonnes of food yesterday, and 160,000 food parcels were being flown in.

Relief workers said there was a serious threat of cholera and other infectious diseases breaking out. "These people have been out there for four days now and, if they are drinking contaminated water, you are talking about diseases such as gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and malaria," an aid worker said.

Food was reported to have been looted from trucks stranded on the main state highway, and the army was called in to halt vandalism and looting. Thousands of people queued in the rain for kerosene and other fuel.

The special relief commissioner, D N Pandhi, was quoted by United News of India as saying: "It has virtually become impossible to mobilise the rescue and relief operations as the rivers in coastal and north Orissa are in spate and are flowing over roads, including the national highway."

The army cleared roads and distributed food, water and medical supplies across the state, but in the national press there was severe criticism of the government's efforts.

The Times of India blamed the huge loss of life on the "constraining socio-economic circumstances which obtain in India", adding that rescue operations had been severely hampered by weak logistical co-ordination and poor communications. The Indian Express said it was "tragic" that the state of Orissa "practically fell off the map of India".

Main roads and communications linking Orissa to the rest of the country were closed by the cyclone, which unleashed winds of up to 160mph and tidal surges of up to 10 metres.

Some transport links were restored yesterday, but phone lines were still unreliable. The Federal Telecommunications Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, said another two or three days were needed before telecoms links were back to normal.

The Railways minister, Mamta Banerjee, said all rail links and railway telecoms links to Orissa had been restored, except for those to Paradip.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Management Support Assistant

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...

Sauce Recruitment: FP&A Analyst -Home Entertainment

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Account Manager - OTE £80,000+

£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - Kent - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project