Kerala floods: Flights being operated from Kochi naval airport

Thiruvananthapuram: Commercial flight operations from the naval airport at Kochi commenced today with the first Air India flight from Bengaluru arriving this morning.

Small aircraft are being operated from the naval airport as the Kochi International Airport has shut operations till 26 August following flooding in the heavy rains.

The first AI flight from Bengaluru arrived this morning and returned by 8.30 am. Train services between the State capital and Ernakulam are also slowly becoming normalised.

Skeletal services were run between Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha-Kottayam routes saw trains packed with flood-affected people moving to the houses of their friends and relatives.

The deadly monsoon rain has claimed 210 lives since 8 August and has displaced over 7.14 lakh people. In the worst affected Chengannur in Alappuzha district, efforts are on to rescue some of those stranded in some pockets, including Pandanad.

According to the Indian Met Department, a fresh low pressure area formed over northwest Bay of Bengal yesterday. However, it will not have any significant impact over Kerala, where rainfall is likely to decrease further gradually during the next five days.

Rehabilitation will be the next big focus of the State government with most of the marooned having been rescued, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.

Rainfall over Kerala during the southwest monsoon (1 June to 19 Aug) has been exceptionally high. Kerala has so far received 2346.6 mm rain, as against the normal of 1649.5 mm, according to IMD.

High-range Idukki recorded the highest excess rainfall (92 per cent above normal) followed by Palakkad (72 per cent above normal).

These two districts had reported several deaths and massive destruction due to flooding and landslides.

Thirteen people lost their lives yesterday while 7,24,649 lakh people were housed in 5,645 relief camps across the State. Rescue operations are in the final stages.

Around 22,000 people were rescued yesterday in operations launched by defence personnel, national and State disaster response forces, fishermen and local people.

The next big challenge for the government is fighting epidemics. The Chief Minister said in each panchayat, six health officers would be deployed to ensure there was no outbreak of any communicable diseases as the flood water recedes.

People have started returning home from relief centres with flood waters receding. Many were shocked to see the state of their homes covered with mud and slush as the water receded.