Rain wreaks havoc in Karnataka, claims 88 lives

     Torrential rains continue to wreak havoc in North Karnataka with 35 more deaths being reported from the region since Thursday night. The rain-related death toll in the state has climbed to 88. Eight people were killed in Raichur, six in Bagalkote, five in Bellary, four each in Bijapur, Gulbarga and Gadag and two each in Koppal and Bidar. Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is visiting rain-affected Haveri district on Friday. In the morning Yeddyurappa held an emergency with state Law Minister S Suresh Kumar, Rural Development Minister Shobha Karandlaje and Transport Minister R Ashok, Chief Secretary S V Ranganath, Director General of Police (DGP) Ajay Kumar Singh and Additional DGP (Law and Order) A R Infant and officers of Air Force and Army to take stock of the situation. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Yedyurrappa described the situation in North Karnataka as grim and serious. He said the state government has released a sum of Rs 100 crore for relief and rescue operations. According to official sources over 26,000 houses have collapsed in North Karnataka. Most of the eleven districts in the region have been inundated, as all the rivers are flowing above the danger mark. Road and rail transport services have also been badly hit by the rains. The Indian Air Force has pressed helicopters for rescue operations. According to IAF sources, four helicopters have been conducting sorties in Bellary and Raichur districts and in addition to this, six more helicopters would be deployed. The Madras Engineering Group and Centre (MEGC) of the Indian Army has deployed 32 boats in rain-hit regions. Karnataka has sought the help of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh following inundation in the regions surrounding the famous shrine Mantralaya, on the borders of both the states. State Chief Secretary Ranganath is co-ordinating the rescue and relief operations. According to Karnataka Government sources, Yeddyurappa would be conducting an aerial survey of Bellary, Koppal, Raichur and Gadag on Sunday. Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Railways K.H. Muniyappa has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minster A.K. Antony in rescue operations in the wake of the unprecedented flood situation in North Karnataka. In his letter to Singh, Muniyappa requested for the immediate measures to rescue the devotees stranded in Mantralaya shrine.

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