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Death toll hits 79 in Indian floods

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“At least 79 people are confirmed dead from the two phases of heavy flooding. I'm afraid the toll might go up,” Orissa Disaster Management Minister Surya Naayan Patra told AFP. - AP (File Photo)

BHUBANESWAR, India: The death toll from severe flooding in the eastern Indian state of Orissa has risen to 79 with an estimated five million people affected, local officials said on Wednesday.

Two bouts of extremely heavy rain this month have led rivers to burst their banks, submerging thousands of villages and leading to a relief effort from local and international aid agencies.

“At least 79 people are confirmed dead from the two phases of heavy flooding. I'm afraid the toll might go up,” Orissa Disaster Management Minister Surya Naayan Patra told AFP.

“We now have close to five million flood-affected people spread across 19 of state's 30 districts needing relief and rehabilitation. The government is trying its best,” he added.

Over 170,000 people living in low-lying areas in the worst-affected areas near the coast have been evacuated, but 3,460 villages remain water-logged, he said.

The weather has improved in recent days as India approaches the end of its rainy season and the flood waters are starting to recede.

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