HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh was faced with a grim flood situation as torrential rain on Friday and Saturday claimed nearly 30 lives and deluged large swathes of land in at least ten out of the 23 districts.

More misery appeared to be in store for the people as weathermen forecast that the downpour will continue for the next two days in the wake of a well-marked low pressure area in the Bay of Bengal that may concentrate into a depression. The government has requested the IAF to keep two helicopters on standby at Hakimpet air base here for rescue operations.

The twin cities bore the brunt of the rain fury. The incessant rain that began on August 8 evening left ten persons dead, most of them in wall collapses, flooded several areas and caused traffic snarls. Boats were deployed in some colonies that were inundated to shift people to safer places.

The State capital recorded 18 cm rainfall during the 24-hour period from 5.30 pm on Friday as against 24.1 cm on August 24, 2000, the highest in its recorded history. People living in areas below the Hussainsagar lake were gripped by fear as water reached the full tank level of 514.75 metres, but officials reassured them that there was no danger.

Elsewhere in the State, the rain led to the breach of numerous tanks and canal bunds causing fear and anxiety among the people besides snapping road links in several flood-hit areas. Train services remained largely unaffected barring some delays as water overflowed the track near Dornakal on the Vijayawada-Hyderabad route.

There were flash floods in Vamsadhara and Nagavali rivers leading to the breaching of an embankment of a canal of the former but the situation was saved by opening the gates of the Gotta barrage. The gates of Thotapalli barrage were lifted to save Srikakulam town from being flooded. Budemaru, described as the sorrow of Vijayawada, overflowed on a bridge and submerged crops.3,000 houses hit

Initial reports received by the government indicated that about one lakh families were affected in Hyderabad, Krishna, Nalgonda, Warangal, Ranga Reddy, Srikakulam, Vizianagram, Guntur, East and West Godavari districts. Over 3,000 houses were fully damaged. An estimated 700 villages and vast areas of crops came under floods mainly in 10 districts in Telangana and Coastal Andhra. Amid high drama, two of the seven farmers trapped in the swollen Munneru river in Krishna district, were rescued by expert swimmers while the rest were brought to safety by boats.

Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy held an emergency meeting with Ministers and ordered all officials to cancel their leave and attend to the flood-related operations. He announced ex-gratia of Rs one lakh to the families of the deceased, apart from 20 kg of rice and 10 litres kerosene and Rs. 4,000 against each house damaged.