India

Indian cyclone damage estimated at $1.5 Billion

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Originally published
By Himangshu Watts

BHUBANESHWAR, India, Nov 30 (Reuters) - A fierce cyclone that killed nearly 10,000 people in eastern India last month is estimated to have destroyed property worth $1.5 billion.

"We have estimated a requirement of 67 billion rupees ($1.5 billion) for reconstruction," a government official from cyclone-ravaged Orissa state told Reuters on Tuesday.

The official, who declined to be identified, said the estimate was more than half of the planned expenditure in the state's budget for the year ending March.

The state took a month to estimate the damage because large areas remained cut off and the state was primarily engaged in providing food and shelter to the victims, he said.

The cyclone that struck 12 coastal districts on October 29 damaged 1.83 million houses, 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres) of paddy crop and killed 9,885 people.

The toll has been creeping up slowly as rescue teams were still recovering bodies from remote areas, officials said.

This was the most severe cyclone to hit the coastal state since 1971, officials said.

State officials said they would shortly submit a memorandum to the federal government seeking funds for reconstruction.

"We need the money immediately to repair roads, build houses and continue welfare activities," the official said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said the federal government would provide all possible assistance to Orissa to help rebuild it.

A state official said the Orissa government planned to launch a "food for work" programme in the affected areas.
"We want to ensure that at least one member of each family gets wages for 25 days, he said.

State officials said relief activity continued. Government and non-governmental agencies had set up more than 1,000 kitchens in coastal districts to distribute food.

($1 = 43.4 rupees)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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