Kerala flood: Toll 197, over 58K rescued in one day

Kerala flood: Toll 197, over 58K rescued in one day

Houses destroyed by a landslide at Kannapanakundu in Kozhikode district of Kerala on Satuday.

As flood-hit Kerala struggled to address the gap between needs and resources in the ongoing rescue and relief operations, 58,506 people were brought to safety on Saturday. The official death toll since August 8 is 197. The state also reported crop loss on 40,000 hectares.

Rescue and relief operations were stepped up in Chengannur, in Alappuzha district, where thousands remained in flooded homes and many were running out of food and water. The CPM MLA from Chengannur, Saji Cheriyan, had on Friday made an emotional appeal on television for engaging helicopters in rescue operations in the region. The MLA had said thousands would die if helicopters were not brought in for airlift operations.

In areas including Pandanad in Chengannur, some of the evacuees said they were stranded without food for about three days as water kept rising around their homes. Relief workers said they recovered three dead bodies from the region. Local residents, fishermen from other parts of the state and voluntary groups were actively involved in rescue operations in Chengannur.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had cited difficulties in conducting rescue operations on boats in regions like Chengannur. On Saturday, four helicopters, 15 Army boats, 65 fishing boats and four Army teams of 100 personnel conducted operations in Chengannur.

A total of 169 teams of National Disaster Response Force are involved in the operations across the state. The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority said over four lakh people had been rescued and shifted to relief camps and safe locations. Calls for help, however, continued from hundreds marooned in different parts of the state.

Many parts of the Kuttanad region were flooded. In Paravur in Ernakulam, a wall collapse caused the death of six people. Rescue operations continued in the affected regions of Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta districts. In Pandalam town in Pathanamthitta district, water from the overflowing Achankovil river started to recede in the evening. In the north, many residential settlements in Wayanad district remained isolated.

Power disruptions hampered rescue operations in many areas. The Kerala State Electricity Board said substations, feeders and lines were hit by the flood. Reports said some of the relief camps were running out of essentials. Television channels quoted people saying their marooned relatives were drinking rainwater to survive. Discharge from the Cheruthoni, Idamalayar and Banasura Sagar dams was reduced. The water level in river Periyar saw a drop on Saturday.

The chief minister said the rescue operation, as it moved closer to its culmination, was a pointer to the collective spirit shown by the state and effective coordination between the state administration and the central forces.

A red alert for heavy to very heavy rainfall was sounded for Idukki, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta districts on Saturday. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said widespread rainfall with isolated heavy fall was likely to continue over the state and widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Karnataka during the next two days. “However, the intensity of rainfall has decreased significantly over these regions since yesterday,” the IMD said in an evening bulletin.