Help at last for starving survivors of the cyclone

THE RESCUE effort to help thousands of people left homeless by the cyclone that struck the Indian state of Orissa got into top gear yesterday, but disease now threatens villagers weakened by five days without food or drinking water.

Sudakar Shakar, a peasant farmer, is just one of the victims who lost everything in the storm that devastated the coastal state five days ago. "We thought that the worst was over after the cyclone. But now we think it would have been better had we perished, because it is too tough living without food for five days," he said.

The fear-haunted eyes and gaunt frames of the homeless on the waterlogged road from Nanderapur to the port city of Paradip tell the same story. Complaining of the lack of food and drinking water, the people are already suffering from gastroenteritis, and worse epidemics are feared. The air is thick with the stench of rotting livestock carcasses floating in the water, and sanitary conditions are rapidly worsening.

News that the help is on its way raised the hopes of the villagers stranded by the highway. They say they have faith in the army, which is organising relief in a joint operation with state officials, who have been criticised for their slow response. About 5,000 troops have been thrown into the aid effort.

The villagers said they had seen helicopters hovering overhead, but so far no food has been dropped to them. The authorities admit that it will take another two days before the emergency airdrops make a difference in more isolated areas, where thousands are in desperate need.

The death-toll from the disaster at the weekend is still not known, but it is expected to be in the thousands. Two million people have been left homeless out of a total 15 million affected by the storm in the southern state.

Nanderapur was a bustling town 12 miles from Paradip, but the area is now a lake. About 5,000 residents have set up shelters on the road, where they wait for help.

Still dazed by the power of the cyclone that uprooted their homes with winds of 160 mph, which also triggered 20ft wave surges, they search for relatives and friends among the highway community.

"The wind speed was such that I thought the world was coming to an end," said an almost-blind 65-year-old woman who gave her name as Shashikala.

Helicopters yesterday made 100 flights to carry 250 tonnes of emergency aid to the affected areas, giving priority to the more remote hinterland

Anger continues to mount at the local government's response to the crisis. One local politician, Prapat Samandaray, said yesterday that the government had been "negligent" and should hand over full control of the relief operation to the army.

But in the state capital Bhubaneshwar, Chief Minister Giridhar Gomango rejected the criticism. He pointed out that the devastating storm was the second to hit the coastal state within two weeks.

"It is a hell of a job coping with two calamities within two weeks. The government is doing its best against all odds," Mr Gomango said.

Bhubaneshwar itself is slowly returning to normal, but electric power is still out. Many telephone lines to the stricken region are also cut.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst

£400 - £500 per day: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Logistics/WMS - Immedia...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000

£34000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Bus...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - eCommerce - OTE £100k

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning digital age...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable