Kerala Floods: Death Toll rises, Massive Rescue Operation Underway
With the forecast of uninterrupted rainfall till Saturday, all three wings of the armed forces have been deployed in a massive rescue operation that is currently underway.
August 17, 2018
The continued torrential rain in Kerala along with the series of landslides and landslips, with cities and villages submerged in floodwaters, have claimed lives of nearly 100 people so far in the second phase of the monsoon season. Till Thursday evening, 40 deaths – mostly from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Kottayam and Thrissur – were added to the toll that has been rising since August 8.
So far today, in various landslides, 14 people have died in Thrissur’s Kuranchery, eight people have died in Palakkad’s Nenmara, seven in Malappuram’s Orkkatteri, six in Kozhikode, four in the eastern parts of Kottayam and one in Kannur’s Kottiyoor. Still thousands of people, including students, women and the aged, have been trapped in their homes mostly in Pathanamthitta and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur.
With the forecast of uninterrupted rainfall till Saturday, all three wings of the armed forces have been deployed in a massive rescue operation that is currently underway. The state has sought more forces and supplies from the Centre for the rescuse operations, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after a conversation with PM Narendra Modi and other leaders.
As of now, 18 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), nine columns and eight teams of Engineering Task Force (ETC) of the Army, 22 teams of Coast Guard, 24 diving teams of Navy etc have been dispatched to the state. Also, 10 helicopters are expected to join the existing fleet of 10 that have been involving in the rescue operations in the state. Apart from this, the Indian Air Force and Navy would be sending four helicopters each.
Also, the CM has appealed to the residents in Alwaye, Chalakudy and parts of Ernakulam that they should listen to the people engaged in rescue operations, as the situation can get worse during the day as the Periyar river is going to carry more water.
"As a result, those living in the area up to one kilometre on either side of Periyar and its tributaries in these places should be on high alert," he said.
Alert: People in the low lying areas along Chalakudy river and its tributaries are requested to move to higher locations as a precautionary measure. All stranded people are being attended by the forces in maximum capacity. #KeralaFloods2018
With rain still pouring down heavily, especially in the higher reaches of the Western Ghats, where most of the dams are situated, Vijayan added that the Special Forces personnel deployed would speed up the rescue and relief operations across the state.
"Today, there are 52 different teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF present. With additional teams coming, we feel rescue operations would be speeded up," Vijayan said.
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala continued to be the worst affected over the last 24 hours, as thousands of people – including students, women and the aged – trapped in their homes in the towns of Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.
The people who were airlifted from Pathanamthitta earlier on Thursday brought to the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
All state TV channels are now being flooded with SOS messages with video clips from people who are waiting to be rescued. Most of these calls are coming from Pathanamthitta and nearby areas.
Various media WhatsApp groups, including CM Vijayan's, have been flooded with SOS messages from Pathanamthitta, seeking urgent help.
Meanwhile, fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
"We have requested more fishing boats and fishermen who have experience in operating the boats. They have all started arriving in the Pathanamthitta and Chengannur areas," the chief minister said.
Parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur have been facing tough times with water from the dams in Idukki district reaching the Periyar river and its tributaries late on Wednesday.
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur is being regulated since last night. Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped, and tickets are not being issued at Thiruvananthapuram railway station.
The situation in the capital district, however, improved on Thursday as there was less rain. Water that had flooded low-lying areas also receded.
The current crisis took a turn for the worse when, in a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala were opened on Tuesday following incessant rains in the higher reaches of the ghats.
The Cochin International Airport was closed on Wednesday till August 26 as the Periyar river waters entered the operational area, and flooded the runway.
The defence forces and disaster response teams are putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts on war a footing.
Kerala needs help
The state witnessed the heaviest rains and floods in the states since 1924, and it has caused massive destruction, leaving more than one lakh people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore. As the state faces unprecedented damages, the chief minister earlier had appealed to the masses to contribute to the Kerala Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF). Here are the details on how you can help.
Account Number: 67319948232
Bank: State Bank of India
Branch: City Branch, Thiruvananthapuram
IFS Code: SBIN0070028
Also, the contributions can be made online through the CMDRF website:
with IANS inputs
First published in Newsclick.
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