Thiruvananthapuram

From Thumba on a rescue mission

The rescue team from Thumba along with residents of Puliyoor in Chengannur at a relief camp.

The rescue team from Thumba along with residents of Puliyoor in Chengannur at a relief camp.  

11-member fishers’ team was in the forefront of rescue operations

When Thumba native Roy Joseph set off for Chengannur on a rescue mission along with 10 others in the early hours of August 17, little did he know that they would rescue around 400 people from the floods.

Alarmed over the worsening situation in Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, 30-year-old Roy had enlisted the support of his father, Joseph Fernandez, a fisherman, three other fishers, and six youths in mounting a rescue effort. With considerable difficulty, he managed to find a lorry to transport their fishing boat to the affected region. An offer for assistance, which he made on Facebook, had elicited a response from a youth Jinu, whose family was stranded in Puliyoor, around 4 km from Chengannur. The locality had been severely affected and cut off from the mainland by the floods.

“When we reached Puliyoor, we were shocked to find a large number of people stranded in houses that had been submerged up to the first floor. There were many women and children wailing and crying for help. Our initial plan was to return to Thumba after rescuing Jinu’s family and a student from Menamkulam who was stranded in a college hostel in Chengannur. However, with the rescue teams deployed by the government yet to reach the area, we could not abandon the affected families,” recounts Roy, who operates a taxi in the city.

The mission was far from over for the group, even after rescuing nearly 400 people, within two days. Acute shortage of food materials worried the local residents. Despite numerous alerts, it appeared it would took a few days for government officials to access the place.

“On hearing our concerns, the residents of Thumba sprang into action and managed to collect food items costing ₹1 lakh within a day. A group of around 15 youths from our hometown soon left for Chengannur and managed to reach Puliyoor the next day. Bearing heavy loads, they had to walk around 8 km on a railway track to join us,” Roy pointed out.

Though their boat has suffered considerable damage, the youth do not expect any compensation. “We are content that we could rescue several people. For us, it was a mission to rescue the members of our own family,” he adds.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 10:13:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/from-thumba-on-a-rescue-mission/article24787460.ece

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