82,000 rescued in battered Kerala

Bigger boats, more choppers to be deployed in flood-hit areas; more heavy rain forecast for 48 hours.

August 17, 2018 10:01 pm | Updated August 18, 2018 07:36 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

 People wait for aid on the roof of their house at a flooded area in the northern part of Kochi on Friday. Thulasi Kakkat

People wait for aid on the roof of their house at a flooded area in the northern part of Kochi on Friday. Thulasi Kakkat

Hundreds of volunteers and fishworkers in Kerala joined teams from the armed forces, the National Disaster Response Force, and State government agencies on Friday in a massive operation to rescue over 82,000 persons from flooded locations in four districts.

The rescue efforts, which commenced at daybreak, continued into the night. Helicopters and boats were pressed into service at Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur to locate flood victims, drop food supplies, and shift people to higher locations.

3 lakh in camps

More than 3,14,000 people have been shifted to 2,094 relief camps.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who discussed the flood situation with Mr. Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman, said additional equipment, including big Army boats and more helicopters, would be used to rescue citizens marooned by floodwaters at Chalakudy and Chengannur, the worst-affected areas.

He said the Centre had made arrangements to supply 1,00,000 food packets to the flood victims even as people in rescue camps complained of lack of food and drinking water. The Women and Child Development Ministry is coordinating with the Air Force and the Kerala government to deliver 100 metric tonnes of ready-to-eat food packets to the flood-affected children, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said.

The Southern Railway on Friday despatched three special trains carrying water to Kerala where drinking water supply has been hit after functioning of pumping stations was disrupted in heavy rains. Over one lakh water bottles would also be sent through other trains bound for the State, a Railways release said.

As many as 164 people have been killed in rain-related incidents across the State over the last nine days, taking the death toll in the monsoon season since May 29 to 324.

Rescue workers braved heavy rain and strong river currents to help stranded residents to safety. The breakdown of communication and power supply hampered efforts to locate people in the worst-affected areas.

Though water in the Periyar river started receding, the situation in Thrissur district worsened overnight, with the Chalakudy river, swollen by heavy rain in the upstream areas and the release of waters from dams, breaching its banks.

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