Thousands still waiting to be rescued in rain-battered Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram: Thousands of people in flood-hit areas in Kerala are battling all odds to survive as the death toll has touched 197 in the past 10 days in the second spell of monsoon fury since August 8.

Many are still stranded in their homes with no food and sheaths of water around them at various places in Alapuzha, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.

The maximum death toll has been reported from Idukki district, where 43 people have lost their lives so far, as per official estimates.

Twenty eight deaths were reported in Malappuram and 27 in Thrissur.

At Chengannur in Alapuzha district, at least 5,000 are stranded, according to revenue officials.

Over six lakh people are in relief camps across the state.

“This is a second birth for us. We did not have any food for the last four days and there was neck deep water all around,” said a woman survivor in a relief camp at Ranni in Pathanamthitta district.

A woman at Aranmula near Alapuzha said they had not had any food or water for two days.

Many people are still stranded as they prefer to be in their homes.

At Paravur in Ernakulam district, six persons are said to have been killed as a portion of a church collapsed on Wednesday night.

At least 600 are stranded in the church and no help has come from any quarter so far, an angry survivor in chest deep water told a television channel.

“There is no food or drinking water… no one has so far come to help us.”

However, there is no official confirmation about the deaths of the six persons in the church so far.

Agriculture minister V S Sunil Kumar said at least 42 villages in Kole wetlands in Thrissur were inundated after the Karivannur river changed its course following breach of a bund road.

Over 2 lakh people in Thrissur district are in relief camps, he said.

In some relief, Kochi Naval airport will start operating commercial flights from tomorrow.

This was due to closure of the Kochi International airport till August 26 following flooding of the runway and airport areas in the heavy rains.

The railways have cancelled at least 18 trains, partially cancelled nine and diverted today’s Kanyakumari-Mumbai CST express train via Nagercoil, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Dindigul and Erode.

With several stretches across the state being destroyed, the services of the Kerala State Transport Corporation and private buses has also been affected.

Along with personnel of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF, hundreds of fishermen and local people are engaged in relief operations.

A young officer safely winched to safety a baby from a building marooned by flood waters yesterday, while at another place girl students from a hostel were rescued in a similar manner.

A 24-year-old man, who rescued his mother and siblings after their home was fully flooded, lost his life as he tripped and fell into the fast flowing waters while helping his aged father.

His body was recovered yesterday. His father, who held on to a fallen tree branch, was saved from the flood water.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had undertaken an aerial survey of some of the flood affected regions yesterday and reviewed the situation.

The Centre had sanctioned Rs 500 crore as immediate assistance to the state.