Food riots as India cyclone death toll rises

RESCUERS FOUND bodies dangling from trees and floating in pools of water yesterday, three days after one of India's worst cyclones. Thousands were feared dead in eastern Orissa state alone.

After three days without food, shelter or clean drinking water, villagers gazed up at the sky as helicopters dropped packets of protein-rich food. Military boats appeared on the horizon to evacuate those marooned on housetops.

Officials began counting the dead and searching for the missing. Unofficial estimates put the death toll at 3,000 to 5,000. But the worst affected areas remained inaccessible, indicating the death toll could be much higher.

As heavy rains began to abate, air, rail and road links were slowly restored to major cities. But telephone and electricity lines still remained inoperable.

Food riots erupted in Bhubaneswar, the Orissa state capital, which had no power, drinking water or fresh food. There were reports of residents looting vehicles carrying emergency relief. In Bhuban-eswar alone, 200,000 people - nearly one in six residents - lost their homes and entire slums were washed away. "There is a complete breakdown of law and order. Police are inadequate," said the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, after visiting some of the affected areas.

Millions were left homeless by what meteorologists classed as a "super cyclone" with winds reaching 155mph and tidal waves that ravaged 87 miles of Orissa's coast on Friday. It was the second cyclone to whirl in from the Bay of Bengal in two weeks and one of the strongest this century. The International Red Cross has appealed for emergency aid and the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, pledged support for victims.

Outside the city of Baleshwar on the northern fringe of the disaster zone, hundreds camped by the road under plastic sheets, many huddling with cattle rescued from their villages. Some clutched small pouches of rice and powdered grain distributed from army trucks.

Desperate farmers ripped a 300ft gash in the main coastal road to try draining their fields of sea water - a breach that will take days to repair, an engineer said.

"This is the worst flooding in 100 years. I would say it is the worst in India's history," said Asim Kimar Vaishnav, the chief administrator of Baleshwar.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk