Kerala floods: Death toll touches 167, rescue operation continues

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Kerala floods: Death toll touches 167, rescue operation continues

The Chief Minister warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday.

By Web Report

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Published: Fri 17 Aug 2018, 6:35 AM

Last updated: Fri 17 Aug 2018, 6:52 PM

 With the death toll in the devastating floods rising to 167 in Kerala, and more than one lakh people living in relief camps across the state, the Centre on Thursday deployed all three wings of the armed forces in a massive rescue operation.  
Torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have cut off vast swathes of land in the state. The Kochi International Airport has been shut till Aug 26 and Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations.  

On Thursday reports of 47 deaths came in mostly from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Pathanamthitta where rivers are in spate since August 8. 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday. "The Centre has sanctioned more men and material," Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders. 
Thursday saw 10 more helicopters joining the existing fleet in the massive rescue operation while 40 additional teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a team of marine commandos also arrived. 
Kerala University has postponed all exams for graduate courses. The state government has also rescheduled Onam vacation for government schools from August 17 to August 29. 
"Today there are 52 different teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF. 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 in the last 24 hours as thousands of people are trapped in their homes in the towns of Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry. 
Around 50 people from Pathanamthitta were airlifted on Thursday and brought to the state capital. 
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. 
Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift some marooned families have failed. 
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur is being regulated since last night. 
Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. "Shortage of boats is the biggest problem," said Nair. 
"We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there," said an anxious relative of the bride. 
Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped, but operations resumed through the Alappuzha sector to the state capital, while the Kottayam sector remains closed. Likewise, the train services resumed operations through the Nagercoil sector. 
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 famed tourist destination of Munnar continued to be in a bad shape, an official said. The Sabarimala temple also remained cut off by the river Pamba.  
The hilly district of Wayanad, connected to Kannur and Kozhikode through a hill highway, has also been badly hit with the overflowing Banasura Sagar dam waters creating havoc. Several landslides were reported in the area. 
In Wayanad alone, more than 20,000 people have been put up in relief camps, authorities said. 
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Miniter Pinarayi Vijayan and asked the defence forces to speed up rescue and relief operations. 
"Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," the Prime Minister said, according to a statement. 
Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha chaired a meeting on the Prime Minister's instructions and asked the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF to mobilise additional manpower, boats and helicopters to scale up the relief measures in Kerala. 
An official spokesperson said food packets and drinking water were rushed to the state. 
A Navy spokesperson said the Southern Naval Command has suspended all routine training activities and shifted its focus to the highest state of readiness in the wake of the situation in Kerala. 
The spokesperson said all available resources for rescue and relief efforts in Ernakulam and Trichur have been mobilised. 
The heaviest rains and floods witnessed in the states since 1924 have caused massive destruction with Adamages to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
With rains still pouring down heavily leading to flooding across Kerala, 11 fresh deaths were reported Mallapuram on Thursday. More rains were forecast till Saturday.

Entire Kerala has been on a red alert since Wednesday evening. A total of 28 deaths were reported on the day.

Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala has been the worst affected in the last 24 hours as thousands of people - students among others were trapped in their homes in Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.

Various media Whats App groups, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's have been flooded with SOS messages from Pathanamthitta crying for help.
Here's how to contribute to CM's relief fund:
While a red alert was sounded in 11 of the 14 Kerala districts, including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam, by Wednesday afternoon, it was extended across the state by the evening hours.
The state government declared a holiday on Thursday in all educational institutions. Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after water flooded the complex. In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rain since late Tuesday. More rain has been forecast till Saturday.

Latest updates:

Kochi airport shut till August 26
The Cochin International Airports Limited has announced that the Kochi airport will remain shut upto 2 pm on August 26, according to media reports.
No threat to Mullaperiyar dam: Tamil Nadu CM
Helpline number for emergency rescue
Over 3,300 hectares area under water in Kerala
45 people stranded were rescued from Machilipatna
At least 20 deaths reported today, toll rises to 87
According to a report in The Hindu, a total of 20 deaths have been reported so far from various parts of Kerala.
Kerala floods: Modi wants rescue, relief operations stepped up
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan about the situation in Kerala and asked the defence forces to speed up rescue and relief operations after fresh rain and flooding left a trail of death and destruction in the southern state.
Massive rescue and relief operations in Kerala
National Crisis Management Committee meeting underway on floods
Water level in Periyar, Chalakudy will rise: Warns CM
11 dead in Mallapuram district
More NDRF teams rushed to assist in rescue operations
Several are stranded as a massive landslide in Kannur highway
<str ong>Cochin International Airport unlikely to reopen on Saturday, report says
People rescued from Pathanamthitta accommodated in Thiruvananthapuram: CM
Water level in Periyar river may rise further, warns CM
Landslide on Palakkad-Thrissur road
Very serious situation in Kerala: CM Pinarayi Vijayan
Worst floods since 1924: Home Minister
National Highway now a raging river
Malayalam actor's house submerged, mother rescued
Air lifting of stranded people begins across Kerala
Two children die in wall collapse
Video: Flood water may drown Lower Periyar power house
Metro services suspended, rail traffic disrupted
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people for generous contributions to battle the worst floods faced by Kerala in nearly a century.
Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Wednesday evening and was assured of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to send more forces to help the state.
The five family members died in Malappuram, crushed when their house collapsed. Three were reported missing, while one child was rescued.
A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged.
Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed.

Two landslides occurred in Idukki in late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips.

The situation in Pathanamthitta district, especially Ranni and its surroundings areas, appeared to be bleak since late Wednesday evening as, local CPI-M legislator Raju Abraham, said things were turning from bad to worse and he was receiving frantic calls from his contituents in Ranni.

"Many of them are now perched on terraces as hours up to first storey are flooded and water level is still rising. The biggest problem is no power supply in many flooded areas, with mobile phones running low on batteries," said Abraham.
Media offices were also flooded with video messages from affected families for help.
Pathanamthitta District Collector P.B. Nooh said that a rescue operation involving 28 boats was going on and another 23 boats have reached the affected areas.
Indian Air Force personnel used helicopters to airlift people to safety from some areas of Pathanamthitta district in the evening to the state capital.
More and more people poured into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts.
The Navy said that it had rescued more than 80 persons in Kerala. As part of its 'Operation Madad', the Southern Naval Command deployed 21 rescue and diving teams with Gemini boats for the purpose.
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain which submerged several low-lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
Among those who had to be shifted from their homes were veteran Congress leader and former State party President V.M. Sudheeran and his wife. Actor turned BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi's house in the city was also flooded.
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding of the Old Munnar town.
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.

Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the Pamba river was in spate.

On Wednesday, Vijayan took the Independence Day salute amid rain here and urged everyone to contribute generously.
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35am after its level crossed 140 feet. People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
The Cochin International Airport was closed till Saturday afternoon as water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area. Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
"We decided to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the water to our operational area," said Nair.

He pointed out that with more rain predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close the airport operations.

"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up. Then only flights will resume. As of now, we have decided to close down till 2 p.m. on August 18," said Nair.
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, and the busiest.

Three new teams of Military Engineering Task Force arrived in the state capital in the night. A team of naval officials has already reached Alappuzha district for relief and rescue.
Other defence forces and disaster response teams already in the state for the past few days are busy in putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 75,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.

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