Saturday, August 18, 2018

Kerala's worst monsoon in a century has killed 324

Kerala's worst monsoon in a century has killed 324
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's worst monsoon in a century has killed 324 people so far, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Friday, issuing a fresh alert for the rain-battered state whose 12 districts are on red alert. Rains, however, subsided a little allowing various agencies to rescue more than 80,000 persons during the day.

Vijayan told the media in the night that the situation arising out of unprecedented floods and subsequent havoc caused by turgid rivers and gushing waters in Kerala continues to be "grave". He said that since August 8 - when the rains began pounding the southern state - as many as 3,14,391 persons have been rendered homeless and are sheltered in 2,094 relief camps across the state.

"The worst affected districts include Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur," Vijayan said after a review meeting with state officials.

Hundreds of defence personnel from all three military branches, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, helped by more than 20 helicopters, mounted search and rescue operations. Fishermen along with their motorboats too joined the humanitarian efforts.
More helicopters were pressed into service on Friday to fly sorties for rescue and relief.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sanctioned the extra choppers, as people marooned in Chengannur and Chalakudy could only be airlifted to safety.

Waters from the Periyar river and its tributaries kept many towns in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts submerged. The worst affected include Paravur, Kalady, Chalakudy, Perumbavoor and Muvatupuzha.

"We have no food. There are 150 persons waiting to be rescued," rued a group of people who sent a video clip to TV channels from Chalakudy.

Thousands of people are still perched on high-rise buildings waiting to be rescued and taken to relief camps. Over 50,000 people are lodged in the Ernakulam and Thrissur camps alone.

Intensity of rains, however, decreased in several districts since Friday morning, leading to decrease in water level in three big dams in Idukki district.

The red alert in Kasargode and Thiruvananthapuram districts was withdrawn on Friday though the warning continued in other 12 districts in Kerala.

"On Saturday, 25 big Army boats will be deployed for evacuation in Kalady, Chengannur and Thiruvalla. More helicopters will be used for rescue and relief. We are confident that by Saturday, we will be able to rescue all those awaiting help," the Chief Minister said.

But Chengannur’s MLA Saji Cheriyan sounded an alarm saying thousands of people could die if people are not evacuated urgently, if not tonight. He also claimed that 50 people in his constituency are already lying dead. The claims could not be verified independently.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached Thiruvananthapuram to review the situation. He will conduct an aerial survey on Saturday and is expected to announce some financial assistance to aid the relief efforts in the state.

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