More rains predicted for Kerala, rescue works on at hectic pace

Kochi: Spelling more trouble for the worst-flood hit Kerala, the State is expected to receive more rainfall later today, which is likely to aggravate the misery of thousands who still await help and need to be rescued.

The India Meteorological Department has forecast that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, are likely to continue over Kerala following low-pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.

Toll rises
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and the red alert has now been withdrawn for all districts. More than six lakh people have been moved to over 3,000 relief camps.

Rescue teams on toes
The red alert has been withdrawn for all districts of Kerala today. Orange alert issued for 10 districts, yellow alert for 2 districts. Meanwhile, rescue operations underway across the state. Anbodu Kochi member Girish S Pradeep says, “We started helpline on 16 August. We have 3 rescue numbers.”

Another member Saratha says,” we are closely associated with District Collector’s team. We take requirements of callers & cater the same to respected departments.”

CM claifies
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday.

The 33 deaths were reported from Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts on Saturday. Rejecting a demand from the Congress-led opposition and Kerala BJP to hand over the rescue operations to the Army, he said, “In a rescue operation, the most important thing is that it should be done only by the local authorities who are well-versed with the locality, and the Army and other agencies’ help is sought and a combined operation is done..”

While more than 58,000 people were rescued in districts like Ernakulam, Chengannur, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, there are still many more waiting to be rescued.

Worst-hit areas
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.

Earlier on Saturday morning, Vijayan told Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a review meeting in Kochi that the death toll since 29 May had climbed to 357 and over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps.

Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.

Losses pegged at Rs 19,500 cr
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates have caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore. Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of the calamity.

There are many people waiting to be rescued in areas like Pandanad (near Chengannur) and I saw two bodies floating in the water. If there is anymore delay in, things will taken a turn for the worse. We are drinking rain water to keep us going…, said a resident of Pandanad.

On Saturday night, a 150-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team started rescue operations in and around affected areas of Chengannur.