Focus shifts to relief as waters recede in Kerala
Special Correspondent, The Hindu, Thiruvananthapuram, August 20, 2018
Death toll rises to 210 [now 223 and rising]; over seven lakh people take shelter in relief camps
After five days of extremely heavy rain and floods that ravaged several parts of Kerala, Sunday brought respite following a gradual decrease in rainfall and receding water levels in the flood-affected areas, particularly Chengannur and Chalakudy.
With 13 persons killed in rain-related incidents on Sunday, the toll since August 8 stood at 210.
Five killed in flash floods
Five persons were reported dead in flash floods in southwestern Thrissur when Karivannur river, which services Chemmeni Dam and Manali river, breached a temporary embankment. Around 42 villages in and around the paddy fields were inundated.
Two bodies were recovered near St. Xavier’s Church, Kuthiathodu, near north Paravoor, where a portion of a wall around a relief camp collapsed on Thursday, reportedly trapping six persons. Local MLA V. D. Satheesan said five persons were still missing.
After rescue, time for relief operation
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who said rescue operations were in the final round, said priority would now be given to providing safe drinking water and restoring electricity and water supply. A total of 7,24,649 displaced persons have been housed in 5,645 relief camps, he told reporters.
The Chief Minister said six health officers would be deployed in each panchayat to ensure there was no outbreak of any communicable diseases as the flood water recedes.
The State government would distribute 36 lakh textbooks free of cost to school children who had lost their books in the floods, he added.
Transportation partially restored.
Transport and train services were partially restored on the Thiruvananthapuram-Kottayam-Ernakulam stretch, with the KSRTC plying services to Pathanamthitaa district for the first time after the water engulfed several parts in the districts. The trains were packed with flood affected people moving to the houses of their friends and relatives.
According to an official statement, 156 lorry loads of essential goods were sent from the State capital to Alapuzha, Pathanamthitta, and Thrissur districts. The materials were collected through various collection centres in the capital district. Over 12,000 tonnes of essential commodities were airlifted to Chengannur, Alapzuha and Pathanmthitta utilising the services of 10 helicopters. The airlifting operations were concentrated on areas which continued to be inaccessible.
The Health Department opened a control room in the office of the Director of Health Services to coordinate the functioning of various medical camps and prepare for possible outbreak of contagious diseases. Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said the Control Room would be nodal point for addressing issues related to medicine supply and deployment of personnel. She said temporary primary health centres will be opened in Thiruvala and Pathanamthitta, and ayurveda camps if necessary.
The Indian Airforce said it had flown over 288 sorties and 537 surviors were rescued by winching, with Airfields of Sulur, Trivandrum and Kochi (Garuda) as the centre of flying activity with extensive dawn to dusk operations. Additional helicopters are now also stationed and operating from Palakkad to facilitate quicker responses to remote areas. In addition, 75 tonnes of relief materials were air dropped. So far a total of 90 sorties by various fixed wing aircraft have been flown and 458 Tonnes of load have been deployed, the IAF said in a statement here.