The first commercial flight landed at INS Garuda, the Indian Navy air station in Kochi, on Monday after operations at the Cochin international airport was closed for days due to floods in Kerala as the focus shifted to rescue and rehabilitation amid a forecast of less rainfall.
Thirteen more deaths were reported on Sunday in the floods triggered by 10 days of an unusually heavy bout of monsoon rains in Kerala, taking the death toll to 239, and more than 700,000 people were taken to relief camps, according to figures released by the state government.
The intensity of rainfall over Kerala has decreased over the past two days, the weather department said, adding that there was no alert of heavy precipitation from Monday onwards in the state.
Thousands of defence force personnel, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and paramilitary forces were engaged in rescue and relief operations with the support of dozens of helicopters, aircraft, and motorboats and the “operations will continue till the situation becomes normal”, a senior official said on Sunday.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) tweeted on Monday that 50 plants to treat water and several tonnes of milk powder and food from Hyderabad, Halwara, Mumbai and Mysore have been sent to the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram for people cut off for days, with many trapped on roofs and upper floors, in desperate need of food and clean water.
Sixty tonnes of medicines from Hindon and 70 doctors and 30 personnel with medicines from Mumbai were also being sent to the state, it added.
Help has poured in from across the country for Kerala, with several state governments pledging crores in financial assistance and non-government organisations collecting items of basic necessities and sending them to the flood-hit state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a financial package of Rs 500 crore to help Kerala, an offer that his rivals and some in the state’s ruling CPI(M) said was inadequate.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Monday his state would give Rs 3 crore in aid to rain-ravaged Kerala. Telangana deputy chief minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali has decided to donate a month’s salary to the state and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MPs will also give a month’s salary to Kerala chief minister’s distress relief fund.
The Indian Railways will run two special trains on Monday from Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam to Kolkata and the train services are expected to be restored on all lines in Kerala by Monday evening. The Railways said it would provide blankets and bedsheets to the affected people in Kerala.
“A train with 14,00,000 litres of water and a navy ship with 800,000 litres of water will reach Kerala by Monday … Over 50,000 metric tonnes of food grains have made available, with more quantities in the pipeline. Arrangements are being made to airlift 100 metric tonnes of pulses by Monday, with more to be sent by train,” the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) was told on Sunday by the state government.
“Over 9,300 kilolitres of kerosene has been made available while another 12,000 kilolitres will be allocated. The LPG bottling plant in Kochi has also been reopened,” the committee was informed.
The civil aviation officials said Air India has offered to airlift relief material free of cost, while the ministry of health and family welfare said it was airlifting 60 tonnes of medicines on Monday and put six specialised medical teams on standby in the state.
The NCMC, which commenced its meetings on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directions, will meet again on Monday.
At least 197 people have been killed in Kerala in the last 10 days in the second spell of monsoon fury since August 8 as floods and landslides triggered by incessant rain have wreaked havoc in many parts of the state.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has pegged the value of losses at roughly Rs 19,200 crore, nearly a fifth of what the state had spent for the entire year in 2017-18. According to state disaster management officials, more than 10,000 kilometres of roads and bridges have been damaged. One of the state’s major airports, in Kochi, has been flooded.
Authorities will also have to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps. Anil Vasudevan, a Kerala health department official, was quoted by news agency Reuters as saying that three people with chickenpox had to be isolated in one of the relief camps in Aluva.
The task is exacerbated by a lack of coordination and adequate manpower.