Bhubaneswar, Oct 12 (PTI) The Odisha government on Friday stepped up rescue and relief operation in areas affected by deluge areas caused due to heavy rainfall under the influence of Cyclone Titli, officials said. Also Read - After Odisha, Rare Bright Yellow Turtle Found In West Bengal; Pictures Stun The Internet

As many as 1,27,262 people were sheltered in 963 relief centres on Friday, while the NDRF and Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) have been deployed to speed up rescue and relief operations, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said. Also Read - India Conducts Successful Night Trial of Nuclear-Capable Prithvi-2 Missile From Odisha Test Range

Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Puri, Kandhamal and Kendrapara districts have been affected by floods, he said, adding Ganjam has been categorised as the “worst-affected”. Also Read - MP Minister Cleans Dirty Toilets Himself After Women Employees Complain About Them, Wins Praise

The calamities have, till now, claimed three lives – all in Ganjam district.

“Two helicopters requisitioned from the Indian Navy have already reached Gopalpur. Air dropping operation in Ganjam district will start from Saturday morning,” the SRC said.

To pace up rescue and relief operations, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik formed a three-member ministerial team to visit the flood-affected Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada districts and monitor the operations there.

“Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Maheswar Mohanty, Water Resources Minister Niranjan Pujari and Energy Minister Sushant Singh will oversee the rescue, relief and restoration activities in the three districts hit by both cyclone and flood,” a communication from chief minister’s office said.

Meanwhile, the state government cancelled the Dusshera vacation of all its employees in southern and central division, including Bhubaneswar, in view of cyclone Titli and subsequent flooding in different parts of the state.

About 60 lakh people have been affected in the twin calamities and normal life was badly hit in Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada districts, where the flood situation remained grim as water levels in major rivers such as Rushikulya and Bansadhara crossed danger marks, official sources said.

Sethi said Balasore district was also affected by flood.

The decision to deploy National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the ODRAF was taken during a high-level meeting where chief minister took stock of the situation.

In a video conference with the collectors of Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada district, Patnaik instructed them to intensify rescue and relief operations.

The chief minister stressed on quick repair of breaches in several river embankments and asked the district collectors to provide cooked food to the people who were shifted to relief camps, an official said.

Of the 22 blocks in Ganjam district, 13 were badly hit due to cyclone and floods. The low-lying areas in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and the pilgrim town of Puri also remained waterlogged due to rain.

The swelling of Mahendratanaya river led to submergence of vast stretches of land in Gajapati district, cutting off road communication between Andhra Pradesh and Paralakhemundi in the district, sources said.

Train services too were affected. At least 16 trains were cancelled and several rescheduled by East Coast Railway (ECoR) on Friday due to submergence of railway tracks.

Director of the meteorological centre at Bhubaneswar, H R Biswas said heavy to very heavy rainfall will continue to pound parts of the state, including Balasore, Bhadrak and Dhenkanal districts till Saturday.

Around three lakh people were evacuated from the vulnerable areas of five coastal districts of the state on Wednesday, a day before the cyclone made landfall.

The cyclone has “weakened into a deep depression” and triggered incessant rainfall in the state, Sethi said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.