As the situation worsens in Kerala after heavy rains flooded the coastal state, the Indian Air Force has deployed 18 aircraft, including 12 helicopters to airlift people stranded in flooded areas. All three defence forces and teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been diverted to Kerala to intensify rescue operations. Fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
The state has been hit with the worst monsoon in a century. Seventy three people have died over the last week, 25 of them died yesterday.
With continuous rain forecast till Saturday, the Centre sanctioned more men and materials, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media, after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central leaders.
“Today there are 52 different teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF present. With additional teams coming, we feel rescue operations would be speeded up,” Mr Vijayan said.
The NDRF teams set out for rescue operations overnight with their boats. The rescue teams received a stream of distress calls from south Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, from places like Ranni, Kozhunchery and Aranmula. The navy deployed multiple rescue and diving teams with boats in the affected areas.
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala continued to be the worst affected over the last 24 hours as thousands of people — including students, women and the aged — trapped in their homes in the towns of Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry. Around 30 people from Pathanamthitta were airlifted today and brought to the state capital.
An alert has been issued from the Chief Minister’s office which warned that the water-level in both Periyar and Chalakudy rivers will rise. “People in 1km radius of Chalakudy, and those inside half a kilometre km of radius of Aluva, must evacuate the place immediately,” a tweet from the official handle of the CMO said.
Many parts of Kochi have been flooded. Aluva is one of the worst-affected areas, with the famous banks of the Periyar river and the famous Shiva temple completely submerged. Fresh landslides were reported from southern Kerala’s Idukki and the northern districts of Malappuram and Kannur.
The current crisis worsened when, in a first, the shutters of 33 dams across Kerala were opened following incessant rains in the higher reaches of the ghats.
The picturesque destination of Munnar continued to be in a bad shape, an official said. The Sabarimala temple also remained cut off by the river Pamba that is in spate.
The hilly district of Wayanad, connected to Kannur and Kozhikode through a hill highway, has also been badly hit with the overflowing Banasura Sagar dam waters creating havoc. Several landslides were reported in the area.
In Wayanad alone, more than 20,000 people have been put up in relief camps, authorities said.
The Cochin International Airport has been closed till Saturday as the Periyar river waters entered the operational area and flooded the runway.
The heaviest rains and floods witnessed in the states since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 80,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.