357 Die In Kerala Floods

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PM grants Rs 500 cr immediate relief after survey

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM — 357 people have died and hundreds of others injured, as Kerala is battered by the worst floods in a century. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took an aerial survey in Kerala’s Kochi this morning, after a short delay due to unfavourable weather conditions. He was accompanied by Chief Min­ister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Hundreds of thousands have been shifted to relief camps as nearly 100 dams, res­ervoirs and rivers have overflowed. Roads have caved in, sections of highways collapsed, and homes swept away amid warnings of worse weather to come.

With thousands still trapped, power and communi­cation lines down, and fresh alerts of further torrential rain, authori­ties warned of more trouble ahead and further deaths to come. More than 30 military helicopters and 320 boats are attempting rescues across Kerala. Heavy rain, accompanied with strong winds have also been predicted for today and tomorrow. “It is an extremely grave situation,” the Kerala government said last eve­ning.

North and central Kerala have been worst-hit by the floods, with at least 310,000 people displaced. They are taking shelter in more than 2,000 relief camps.

“In Kerala, I took stock of the situation arising in the wake of the devastating floods across the state. Joined a review meeting and un­dertook an aerial survey to assess the damage caused by flooding. The nation stands firmly with Kerala in this hour,” PM Modi tweeted after conducting the aerial survey.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister held a meeting with the Kerala chief minister and an­nounced an immediate flood relief of Rs. 500 crore for the state. This is in addition to the Rs. 100 crore an­nounced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 12. PM Modi also announced a compensation of Rs. 2 lakh per person to the family of those killed by rain, floods and landslides and Rs. 50,000 to those seriously in­jured, from the Prime Minister’s Na­tional Relief Funds

“Kerala is facing its worst flood in 100 years,” Chief Minister Pina­rayi Vijayan, who has actively been monitoring the situation and rescue efforts in the state, said last eve­ning. Till now, 42 navy, 16 army, 28 coast guard and 39 National Disas­ter Relief Force teams have been engaged in rescue operations.

An­other 14 NDRF teams are expected to join them shortly. The military has pushed in more than 300 boats. 30 military helicopters are being used in operation, and another four aircraft and three coast guard ships have also been brought in.

With no end in sight to the del­uge, people all over the state of 33 million have made panic-stricken appeals on social media for help, say­ing they cannot make contact with rescue services. Flood waters from the Periyar river and its tributaries have submerged many towns in Er­nakulam and Thrissur. An alarming situation has developed in Alapuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Pathana­mthitta districts, where roads have become completely submerged.

Thousands of people are still perched on trees and rooftops, wait­ing to be rescued. Water has even started entering relief camps. Other messages have been sent from people trapped inside temples and hospitals as well as their homes.

Hundreds of fishermen from coastal villages have joined the res­cue efforts at Pathanamthitta, where helicopters are airlifting people to safer places. According to the weath­er department, since the beginning of June more than 321 centimetres (126 inches) of rain has fallen on the hilly central Kerala district of Idukki, which is now virtually cut off from the rest of the state. Just this season, rain in Kerala has seen a nearly-160 per cent rise above normal.

The government says 10,000 ki­lometres of Kerala’s roads have been destroyed or damaged, along with thousands of homes. The damage is unparalleled. Industry has suffered too. On top of tourist cancellations, Kerala’s valuable rubber industry has been hit severely by the floods. Electricity supplies to more than half the state have been cut.

The airport in Kochi has been shut at least till August 26 and flight operations have been shifted to state capital Thiruvananthapuram. Domes­tic airlines have been asked to keep a check on air fares for flights operating to and from Kerala. Telecom operators have announced free call and data ser­vices and other relief measures for a week for users in Kerala. Rail services across the state and the metro service in Kochi have been hit too.

Transpor­tation has collapsed, and both resi­dents and tourists are stranded. Des­perate non-resident Keralites from Australia, the US and the UK have been pleading with authorities, seek­ing help for their families.

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