File photo: Two men row a boat through a flooded paddy field next to an inundated structure in Alappuzha, Kerala, India. Image Credit: AP

The worst flooding in more than a century has left hundreds dead, hundreds of thousands homeless, billions of dollars of losses and the lingering risk of disease in Kerala, southern India.

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Aid efforts

Kerala officials arrested for embezzling relief materials

Two Kerala government officials were arrested on Friday in Wayanad district for the embezzlement of relief materials, police said.

A senior police official said the arrests were made based on a complaint received from another senior government official.

According to the complaint, the two accused, S. Thomas and M.P. Dinesh, were stopped by residents at a relief camp Panamaram village while they were loading the relief materials into a vehicle.

Thomas and Dinesh said that they were moving the materials to another camp in the village. But the residents called the police and upon interrogation it was found that they lied.

Meanwhile, a similar incident was also reported from Chengannur where the accused was a temporary government official.

Relief materials have been coming into Kerala from various places ever since the heavy monsoon rains hit the state on May 29 followed by subsequent floods leading to some 370 deaths and displacing over a million people from their homes.

Video: Emirates to fly 175 tonnes of relief material to Kerala

Emirates SkyCargo will carry flood relief cargo of over 175 tonnes to Kerala, joining the UAE community in their support of the people of Kerala, an Emirates statement said. 

The air cargo operator will transport the relief goods, which have been donated by various UAE-based businesses and organisations, to Thiruvananthapuram,  the nearest Emirates station to the flood-hit areas, the statement said.

The goods, including lifesaving boards, blankets and dry food items, will be handed over to the local flood relief and aid organisations for distribution, the statement said. 

Clean-up operations gather steam

 With flood waters  receding from most of the places, the Kerala government has taken up the massive task of cleaning houses and public places filled with slush left behind by the massive deluge that claimed 231 lives, besides causing large-scale destruction.

The government has set up a control room here to coordinate the cleaning process across the state and the civic bodies have been entrusted with the task of managing the work, official sources said on Thursday.

Haritha Kerala Mission, a mission integrating waste management, organic farming and water resources management, would also coordinate the cleaning process. It will deploy 50 high-power pump sets in different areas by tomorrow (Friday).

Teams drawn from different areas, including electricians and plumbers, have also been deployed. They would work along with more than 50,000 volunteers to clean houses and public places filled with slush and debris dumped by the floods, officials said.

As water level has receded, people have started returning home. However, more than 130,043 people are still lodged in 3,520 camps across the southern state.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had held a series of review meetings and monitored the rescue operations during the period of crisis, will be visiting different relief camps across the state today.

The Kerala Water Authority has taken steps to supply drinking water in affected areas, Water Resources Minister Mathew T Thomas said.

Of the 1,089 water supply schemes affected due to the floods, more than 800 have started functioning, he said, adding efforts were on to make others also functional.

Even as relief materials and donations to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) pour in, a political row has erupted over accepting foreign aid.

The CPI(M)-led LDF government in the state said foreign aid should be accepted, even as there were reports that the Centre was unlikely to accept the same.

India now 'open' to foreign aid for Kerala

India is now "open" to foreign aid and humanitarian assistance to help rebuild Kerala after the deadly floods, the NDTV reported on Wednesday night.

The assistance, however, will be subject to the existing norms and procedures, the report added, citing "sources".

Kerala officials had been concerned about a shortfall in funds during the long road to reconstruction. The new stance marks a major policy shift  — since 2004, India has not accepted any foreign aid for any natural disaster — a reflection of the nation's growing economy and a new mood of self-reliance.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kerala finance minister Thomas Issac questioned the Centre's ability to foot the bill for the massive reconstruction the battered state needs.

Pointing out that the Delhi government gave only Rs600 crore (about Dh315 million, about $85 million) when Kerala asked for Rs2,000 crore (Dh1.05 billion, $285.7 million), he said: "Given that, I don't know why they should deny some government or individual (who can help)".

Cochin airport extends reopening

Cochin International Airport in Kerala extends reopening for three more days; airport is now scheduled to open on August 29, operations to begin at 2pm.  

Mohammad Bin Zayed discusses Kerala relief efforts with Indian Prime Minister

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has discussed the devastation caused by the floods in Kerala during a telephone call with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During the call, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed expressed his sincere condolences and sympathy to the Prime Minister and discussed the relief efforts under way.

Shaikh Mohammad said that the UAE was prepared to extend all help during this humanitarian crisis in which hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced, and added that the two countries had always enjoyed deep and friendly ties going back several years.

The Indian Prime Minister expressed his thanks and appreciation for the UAE's concern and its assistance in relief efforts across the southern Indian state of Kerala. He said that the UAE's response reflected the special relationship between the two countries and their peoples.

More than 24,000 people rescued

Over 24,000 people have been evacuated until now from the flood affected regions of Kerala; 41 NDRF teams are still undertaking relief and rescue operations in the state, a force spokesperson said on Tuesday.

India Army personnel rescue flood affected people in Ernakulam district of Kerala. PTI

Flood waters were receding in most of the affected areas and there are no alerts for heavy rainfall for the next few days.

"The force has rescued 535 people and evacuated 24,616 marooned people to safer places. 119 animals were also evacuated and pre-hospital treatment was provided to 4,908 people till now," he said.

At least 41 teams of the federal disaster contingency force are still deployed in Kerala to assist the state administration in rescue, relief and rehabilitation work and to respond in case of any eventuality, the spokesperson said. A National Disaster Response Force team has about 35-40 personnel.

89,540 tonne of foodgrains, 100 tonne of pulses to be supplied to flood-hit Kerala

89,540 tonne of foodgrains and 100 tonne of pulses will be supplied for free to flood-hit Kerala for distribution among those who are not covered under the food security act, Indian Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.

Residents collect food and water from a truck distributing relief materials to those stranded by floods in Pandanad in Alappuzha District. AFP

he Centre allocates 1.18 lakh tonne of foodgrains monthly to the state. About 52 per cent of the state population is already covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) under which highly subsidised grains are distribution via the Public Distribution System (PDS). "We have taken a decision to provide 89,540 tonne of foodgrains to the state for distribution to those who are not covered under NFSA. The allocation will help the state to cover most of its population," Paswan told reporters here. That apart, 100 tonne of pulses (dals) have been allocated to the state. The ministry has also decided to provide to the state 80 tonne of pulses on a daily basis to ensure adequate supply and check price rise, he said.

Cochin airport to open on August 26

With the flood waters receding rapidly, the Cochin International Airport, one of the three in Kerala and the busiest, will open on August 26 - after 12 days of closure.

Airport authorities have been engaged in a massive cleaning operation of the operational area that was submerged by flood waters.

One side the compound wall of the airport came down after water from the swollen Periyar river and its tributaries, which received an unprecedented amount of water released by major dams, entered the complex, turning it into a virtual sea.

The airport was first closed on August 9, for a few hours, and then on August 15.

Consequent to the flooding, a Rs 60 crore solar power plant, billed as one of the biggest in an airport, was submerged.

Environmentalists point at poor policy decisions

Most of the regions impacted by this monsoon were once classified as ecologically-sensitive zones (ESZs) by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), also known as the Gadgil Committee.

The report was crafted by a team headed by Madhav Gadgil, ecologist and founder of the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. According to environmentalists, the committee's recommendations were strong enough to protect the sensitive Western Ghat region.

The committee had suggested that 140,000 kilometres of the Western Ghats be classified in three zones as per the requirement of environmental protection in the areas. In some areas the committee recommended strong restrictions on mining and quarrying, use of land for non-forest purposes, construction of high rises etc. The report was first submitted to the government in 2011.

But the Kerala government rejected the committee report and did not adopt any of its recommendations.

Speaking to various regional media, Madhav Gadgil has said that irresponsible environmental policy is to blame for the recent floods and landslides in Kerala. He also called it a "manmade calamity". He said that the committee report had recommended to protect the resources with the cooperation of local self governments and people, but those recommendations were rejected. He also pointed out that quarrying is a major reason for the mudslides and landslides.

Other environmentalists also point fingers at the extensive quarrying, mushrooming of high rises as part of tourism and illegal forest land acquisition by private parties as major reasons for the recent calamity.

Nearly 750,000 in relief camps

With nearly three quarters of a million people packed into relief camps in the southern state, known for its tourist beaches and hill resorts, authorities also fear outbreaks of disease.

After a week of fierce downpours, rainfall eased Monday and flood levels have fallen in many districts. Army helicopters and boats kept up missions to find trapped survivors and drop food and water in isolated villages.

Army helicopters have been dropping food, medicine and water in isolated villages. AP

Officials said 22,000 people were rescued on Sunday. At least 30 bodies were also found taking the death toll above 200 since the torrential rain started falling on August 8 and more than 400 since the monsoon started in June.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the priority now was to provide clean drinking water and restore power supplies to the state of 33 million people.

"The total number of people taking refuge at the 5,645 relief camps has risen to 724,649," Vijayan told reporters on Sunday.

Death toll rises to 370: dead bodies found in homes

Bedraggled survivors massing at evacuation centres have described desperate scenes after days without food or water.

"They were the scariest hours of our life," 20-year-old Inderjeet Kumar told AFP at a church doubling as a relief shelter in the hard-hit Thrissur district.

"There was no power, no food and no water - even though it was all around us."

If you are in the UAE, there are easy ways to donate for Kerala relief: (see the table below right)

The overall death toll in the state since the start of the monsoon on May 29 had reached 370, the spokesman said. Forty-six of them were found dead in just the last 24 hours.

In Thrissur, rescuers searching inundated houses discovered the bodies of those unable to escape as the floodwaters quickly rose. 

"They didn't think that it would rise this high — 10 to 15 feet at some places — when the initial warnings were issued," said Ashraf Ali K.M, who is leading the search in the small town of Mala.

"Some of them later gave distress calls when the water rose high and fast," he told AFP at the scene Sunday as the carcases of cattle and other livestock floated past. 

Among the dead was a mother and son whose home collapsed around them late Saturday. Another was a local man who volunteered for the search and rescue mission. His body was retrieved by comrades early Sunday, said Dibin K.S, a Kerala firefighter, in a grim reminder of the perils facing rescuers.

- AFP

The carcass of a cow lies on the side of a road where an eldery woman is carried to safety from flood waters during a rescue operation in Annamanada village in Thrissur District. AFP

Fear of disease-outbreak in relief camps

Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at the Kerala health department, said authorities had isolated three people with chickenpox in one of the relief camps in Aluva town, nearly 250 km (155 miles) from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

He said the department was preparing to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps, where an estimated two million people have taken shelter since the monsoon rains began three months ago.

Authorities fear an outbreak of disease among two million people crammed into relief camps.

A woman rescued by the navy personnel rests with her grandchildren at the Naval relief camp in Kochi. AFP

800,000 displaced in flooding 

Some 800,000 people have been displaced and over 350 have died in the worst flooding in a century in southern India's Kerala state, as authorities rushed to bring drinking water to the most affected areas, officials said on Sunday.

People look at a house destroyed by a landslide at Kannapanakundu village in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. AFP

1.5m litres of drinking water for victims

At least two trains carrying about 1.5 million litres of water were moving to the flooded areas from the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Indian railway official Milind Deouskar said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

10,000 more to be rescued

 P.H. Kurian, a top disaster management official in Kerala, said weather conditions had improved considerably and expected the nearly 10,000 people still stranded to be rescued by Monday.

An estimated 800,000 people were sheltered in some 4,000 relief camps across Kerala, Kurian said.

Thousands of rescuers were continuing efforts to reach out to stranded people and get relief supplies to isolated areas by hundreds of boats and nearly two dozen helicopters, said Kurian.

People are airlifted by Navy personnel at a flooded area in Paravoor near Kochi. AFP

Airport to remain closed

One of the state's major airports, in the city of Kochi, was closed this past Tuesday due to the flooding. It is scheduled to remain closed until August 26. The Indian government said a naval air base in Kochi will be opened for commercial flights starting on Monday morning.

Mujeeb 31, a tipper truck driver sits in front of his newly constructed house which was destroyed by a landslide at Mattikunnu village in Kozhikode. AFP

Rescue workers search for the bodies of missing persons after a landslide, triggered by heavy rains and floods, at Nenmara in Palakkad. PTI

Red alert lifted

The red alert has reportedly been withdrawn from all districts, but an orange alert still remains in Eranakulam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta discticts.

$2.8 billion damage

Damage to property of the century's worst floods is estimated to hit $2.8 billion, as armed forces and rescue teams try to evacuate those stranded in low-lying areas.

UAE expats help Kerala victims through social media 

How to donate to Kerala relief fund in the UAE

UAE residents can donate up to Dh200 to the Emirates Red Crescent's Kerala relief fund setup by UAE Government through their phones via du or Etisalat on these numbers:

To donate via Etisalat:

SMS 2441 for Dh10
SMS 2443 for Dh50
SMS 2446 for Dh100
SMS 2449 for Dh200

To donate via du:

SMS 3441 for Dh10
SMS 3443 for Dh50
SMS 3446 for Dh100
SMS 3449 for Dh200

Watch: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan meets the press.

Meanwhile Randeep Singh Surjewala, a member of Indian National Congress party and an MLA in the Haryana state legislature has declared that all MPs, MLAs and MLC will donate their one-month salary for flood relief in Kerala.

Modi thanks Shaikh Mohammad

In a tweet, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thanked His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and UAE Vice President, for his "gracious offer" to support the flood-affected south Indian state.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also tweeted on Saturday that the UAE will provide relief to the citizens of Kerala.

 

Aid for Kerala from other states

Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh on Saturday announced that a train loaded with rice worth around Rs7.5 crores ($1.075 million) will leave for Kerala on Sunday;  3 crores ($300,000) will be provided in cash while doctors and soldiers are also ready to go there to help in the #KeralaFloods.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has called off his trip to the US for medical treatment due to the grave situation in flood-hit Kerala, an official said on Saturday.


Woman gives birth after helicopter rescue

A pregnant woman stranded by floods in Kerala gave birth just after being airlifted to safety, an Indian Navy spokesman said, as the military stepped up rescue operations on Saturday.


Dozens of navy helicopters have embarked on high-risk missions to save people from rooftops and isolated land as the southern state battles a flood crisis that has left at least 324 people dead.

Sajita Jabeel, 25, was winched up by Commander Vijay Verma, who has been widely praised for leading the rescue in the Aluva district of the state's main city Kochi.

"The lady was in labour, her water had broken," Verma told News18 television.
He called the relief mission "very challenging" and said his team had rushed to find the family after receiving an emergency call.

"We took a doctor along, we winched her up, it took some time though because we had to winch down two people to help her." Jabeel gave birth to a healthy baby boy after being rushed to hospital.

More than 400 trapped in building

In the town of Muringoor, more than 400 people were stranded on the 10th floor of the Divine Retreat Centre, according to former Gulf News journalist Linda Joseph Kavalackal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducts an aerial survey of flood-affected areas in Kerala on Saturday, August 18, 2018. PTI

Floodwaters covered one floor of the building and had destroyed the retreat centre's terrace, Kavalackal said on Facebook.

On Saturday, she said people from nearby houses were calling for help and that inside the retreat centre, more than 25 families are "alive and dry".

Hundreds of thousands in shelters

More than 300,000 people have taken shelter in over 1,500 state-run relief camps, officials said. But authorities and local media outlets said they were being inundated with calls for assistance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met on Saturday with the state's top officials, promising more than $70 million in aid. While the central government has dispatched multiple military units to Kerala, state officials are pleading for additional help.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a review meeting on his arrival to take stock of the flood situation, in Kochi on Saturday, August 18, 2018. PTI

A total of 225 fire service personnel and 75 rescue boats are reportedly being dispatched to Kerala and Odisha for rescue and relief operations.

Heavy rains since August 8 have triggered floods and landslides and caused homes and bridges to collapse across Kerala, a famously picturesque state known for its quiet tropical backwaters and beautiful beaches. Many roads and railways have been shut, and one of the state's major airports, in the city of Kochi, has also closed.

6,000 still waiting for rescue

Authorities said thousands of people have been taken to safety so far but 6,000 more are still waiting for rescue.

"We are deploying more boats and the army to ramp up rescue operations," senior state government official P.H. Kurian told AFP.

Helicopters have also been dropping emergency food and water supplies, while special trains carrying drinking water have been sent to Kerala.

Private helicopters join in rescue work

The Kerala government has issued a special order to hire private helicopters to use for rescue operations if necessary. District collectors have been authorised to hire choppers. The chief minister has also requested the Indian prime minister to deploy more helicopters for rescue operations.


#IndiastandswithKerala

Several states have started announcing or sending funds and relief packages to the state as of Saturday.


Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao announced aid of 25 crore for rain-hit Kerala. He also ordered a big supply of water purifiers.

Help is on its way

On Saturday, Modi announced an aid of 500 crores to Kerala. He also announced an ex-gratia of 2 lakh per person to the next of kin of deceased individuals and 50,000 rupees to those seriously injured or in critical conditions. This would be taken from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.


Calls to declare a national emergency

Rahul Gandhi tweets out a request to the Prime Minister to declare Kerala floods as a national emergency.


Assessment of the situation

On initial assessment, the damages in the state amount to 19,512 crores (over Dh10.26 billion) – the state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi vijayan announced. Over 82,000 people were rescued on Friday with rescue efforts going steady on Saturday with a slight lull in the rain. The worst-affected areas of Chengannu and Pathanamthitta are being focused on by rescue teams – these teams are a mix of civilians, fishermen from the coast and army, navy and disaster management forces. On Saturday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the state for an aerial review of the flood-affected areas in Kerala.

Football teams also came out in support of flood victims.


Liverpool FC India: You will Never Walk Alone #YNWA

Modi arrives in Kerala

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in capital of Kerala on Friday night to see for himself the rain-battered Kerala and also survey the relief and rescue operations.

On Saturday, Modi along with Vijayan will make an aerial survey of the worst affected districts. Before returning to Delhi from Kochi, the Prime Minister will chair a meeting to discuss the grave situation in the state.

Earlier in the day Modi had tweeted "Later this evening, I will be heading to Kerala to take stock of the unfortunate situation due to flooding."

"Had a telephone conversation with Kerala Chief Minister...We discussed the flood situation across the state and reviewed rescue operations."

Watch: Aerial visual of submerged Kochi airport 


Shaikh Mohammad sends condolence message

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has cable of condolences to the Indian President on the tragic death of civilians in the floods that hit the country. 


More than 100 killed in just one day

More than 100 people died in rain-related incidents in Kerala in just one day on Thursday, sources in the State Disaster Management Authority said, even as defence forces scaled up operations this morning to rescue those stranded in worst-hit areas.

The toll for Thursday, initially put at 30, has now been revised to 106, the sources said.

Visuals of rescue operations from flood-hit Kerala

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop fake news: Vijayan 

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday issued a stern warning to those spread fake news about floods in the state using social media.

Speaking to the media, Vijayan said it is unfortunate that social media is being misused and fake news is being spread about Kerala's tragedy.
"I wish to inform all that the state government will now take very strict action against such people," said Vijayan.

Idukki District Collector Jeevan Babu said there are fake news that was being spread in the social media about the safety of Mullaperiyar dam.

"All the news about the safety of the dam is absolutely baseless and unfounded and I wish to state that there are no such issues at all. The state government has now decided to take action against all those who spread fake news," Babu told the media.


Shaikh Khalifa sends letter of condolence to Indian President

Abu Dhabi: UAE President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent a cable of condolences to Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, on the victims of the recent floods and landslides in the Indian state of Kerala.

Shaikh Khalifa extended his heartfelt sympathy to Kovind and to the families of the victims and wished the injured speedy recovery.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also sent similar cables to the Indian President.

Excise duty on liquor raised

Even as Kerala grapples with its worst floods in nearly a century, Finance Minister Thomas Issac on Thursday announced a hike in excise duty on liquor to raise additional funds for relief and rehabilitation of the affected.

"Yes, there is a financial resource crunch. We shall overcome. As additional resource mobilisation to the Chief Ministers Disaster Relief Management Fund, the excise duty on liquor increased by 0.5 to 3.5 per cent for 100 days. Rs230 crore [Rs2.3 billion; Dh8.4 billion] expected as additional revenue," Issac tweeted.

The Kerala government has estimated a loss of Rs80 billion due to floods in the wake of heavy rains across the state.

PM Modi to visit Kerala on Friday

Kerala's government has described the crisis - among the worst in decades - as "extremely grave". Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit flood-affected areas on Friday, said minister Alphons Kannanthanam.


Death toll rises to 114

With the death toll in the devastating floods rising to 114 in Kerala, and more than 150,000 homeless, the Centre on Thursday deployed all three wings of the armed forces in a massive rescue operation.

Indian commuters travel in a truck to a safer place as flood waters ravaged the National Highway 47 in Kochi. AFP

On Thursday reports of 47 deaths came in mostly from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Pathanamthitta where rivers are in spate since August 8.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast until Saturday. "The Centre has sanctioned more men and material," Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders.

Air Force personnel carry out rescue operations at a flood-affected region. PTI

Kerala University has postponed all exams for graduate courses. 

"Today there are 52 different teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF. With additional teams coming, we feel rescue operations would be speeded up," Vijayan said.

Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala continued to be the worst affected in the last 24 hour. Around 50 people from the district were airlifted on Thursday and brought to the state capital.

Meanwhile, fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
"We have requested more fishing boats and fishermen who have experience in operating the boats. They have all started arriving in the Pathanamthitta and Chengannur areas," the Chief Minister said.

Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift some marooned families have failed.
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur is being regulated since last night.

Cochin Naval air base to be used for commercial operations

The Central government on Thursday agreed to open the Cochin Naval air base for commercial operations following a request by the Kerala government, officials said.

A person stands near submerged trucks on a waterlogged street at a flood-affected region following heavy monsoon rainfall, in Kochi. PTI

On Wednesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sought the permission of the Central government to allow the Naval air base for use by airlines as the Cochin International Airport would remain closed due to floods.

According to government sources, the Centre has accepted the state government's request to allow flights to arrive at the Naval air base.

Being a small airport, flights like Boeing 737 can be handled at the base and CIAL authorities are having discussions with the airline authorities on this.

Meanwhile, CIAL suffered a huge setback on Thursday as their Rs600 million (Dh31 million)  solar power plant, one of the biggest in an airport spread over 45 acres, was submerged in the flood waters.

Transport trouble

Konkan Railway on Thursday cancelled five trains emanating from Kerala, following flash-floods, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the airport remains waterlogged - local media reports that it will stay closed until August 26.


Thousands cry out for help from roofs  

Thousands of flood-affected people in Kerala - mostly in Pathanamthitta and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur - have been stranded as rescuers battle heavy rains to reach out to them even as the death toll in the unprecedented floods rose to 88 on Thursday.

Hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in the worst-hit southern district of Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift the marooned families have failed.

"My 90-year-old mother-in-law, sister-in-law who is a cancer patient, and other relatives are living in a precarious condition as water is rising not just outside their home near Thiruvalla but inside, too," a relative said.

Shortage of boats

"When we spoke to the authorities there, they said they are helpless as boats are not available," he said.

CPI-M legislator from Chengannur Saji Cherian said: "Hundreds of people are eagerly waiting to be evacuated and the only way out is airlifting. Unless things move fast, this could turn out to be very serious."

Residents evacuated on an boat in flooded city of Aluva, Kerala. AFP

TV channels in the state are showing live pictures of people crying for help.

"We are standing on the terrace of our two-storied building near Chengannur and we are being told since last evening that we will be rescued soon. If help does not reach us in an hour's time, we may not be alive, as water level is rising menacingly" is how a family reacted on a TV channel on Thursday.

Similar scenes are being shown from Aluva and Chalakudy in central Kerala, after the dam waters from the Idukki district reached the Periyar river and its tributaries.

Supreme Court directs reducing water level at Mullaperiyar dam by three feet

India's Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Disaster Management sub-committee of Mullaperiyar Dam to consider reducing water level up to 139 feet from the present 142 feet, considering the "grave" flood situation in all the 14 districts of Kerala.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra took a serious note of the grim flood situation in Kerala and asked the sub-committee to hold an urgent meeting tomorrow morning with the Centre's National Crisis Management Committee (NCMS) and the Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu and Kerala through a video-conference if physical presence of officials cannot be ensured.

"An effort has to be made to bring down the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam to 139 ft so that the people living downstream should not live in constant fear," the bench said.

However, Tamil Nadu government opposed the plea with regard to bringing down the water level in the dam, saying that the inflow of water presently is over 12,000 cusec in contrast to the outflow of 5,000 cusec.

The bench said this was not the time to go into the past and efforts to be made to deal with the present crisis and posted the matter for further hearing at 2pm tomorrow.

The bench also directed that the affected and displaced people be given adequate relief immediately.

It also directed the committee and the NCMS to come out with a disaster management plan and asked Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments to implement with the decisions of the panel.

Watch: Cost Guard chopper in rescue operation

Rescue operations held by Coast Guard helicopters over Ernakulam, on Thursday. 132 people have been rescued from Thrissur, Aluva and Perumbavoor by Coast Guard helicopters.


NCMC meets; decides to scale up relief, rescue operations

India's apex body to handle emergency situation on Thursday decided to scale up relief and rescue operations in flood-hit southern state of Kerala by involving the three defence services and other agencies, besides providing essential commodities to marooned people in 14 worst-affected districts.

Chaired by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha and attended by chiefs of the three services, secretaries of home, defence and others, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) took stock of the prevailing situation in Kerala and directed all concerned to ensure continued assistance to the state government to meet the crisis, a home ministry spokesperson said.


The meeting was held following a directive of the prime minister.

Modi wants rescue, relief operations stepped up

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan about the situation in flood-battered Kerala and asked the defence forces to speed up rescue and relief operations after fresh rain and flooding left a trail of death and destruction in the southern state.

Rescue officials assist villagers out of a flooded area following heavy monsoon rainfall, near Kochi. PTI

An official statement from the Prime Minister's Office said Modi spoke with Vijayan again on Thursday morning.

"We discussed the flood situation in the state. Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," the Prime Minister said.

Rahul Gandhi seeks increase in Army, Navy deployment

Congress President Rahul Gandhi spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Kerala floods and requested for a "massive increase" in the number of armed personnel deployed there to assist in rescue and relief as the death toll reached 87.

"Kerala is in great pain...requested Prime Minister to massively increase deployment of the Army and Navy. I said that it is critical that he gives the state special financial assistance as this is a tragedy without parallel in Kerala's history," Gandhi tweeted. 

Death toll reaches 87, massive rescue operation underway  

Even as the deadly deluge in Kerala continued to take a toll of life and property across the state - with the number of deaths rising to 87 on Thursday - the Centre has deployed all three wings of the armed forces in a massive rescue operation that is currently underway.

Till Thursday afternoon, 20 fresh deaths - mostly from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Thrissur - were added to the toll that has been rising since August 8.

More central teams on the way

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.

"By noon, 10 helicopters will join the existing fleet of 10 already involved in the massive rescue operation in our state. Apart from this, the Indian Air Force and Navy will send four helicopters each.

"They will be joined by 40 more teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a team of marine commandos, who will reach today and begin their work," Vijayan said.

Caution: Periyar water likely to rise

"Residents in Alwaye, Chalakudy and parts of Ernakulam should listen to the people engaged in rescue operations as things can get worse during the day as the Periyar river is going to carry more water.


"As a result, those living in the area up to one kilometre on either side of Periyar and its tributaries in these places should be on high alert," he said.

With rain still pouring down heavily, especially in the higher reaches of the Western Ghats where most of the dams are situated, Vijayan added that the special forces personnel deployed would speed up rescue and relief operations across the state.

"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," Vijayan said.

Pathanamthitta still worst affected

Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala continues 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 air-lifted earlier on Thursday and brought to the state capital.

All state TV channels are now being flooded with SOS messages with video clips from people who are waiting to be rescued and most of these calls are coming from Pathanamthitta and nearby areas.

Various media WhatsApp groups, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's, have been flooded with SOS messages from Pathanamthitta, seeking urgent help.

Meanwhile, fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.

"We have requested more fishing boats and fishermen who have experience in operating the boats. They have all started arriving in the Pathanamthitta and Chengannur areas," the Chief Minister said.

Landslide kills 5 in Thrissur

Death toll from flood goes up as five people were killed in a landslide in Kuranchery in Thrissur district of Kerala on Thursday. The incident occurred this morning during heavy downpour as landslide covered five houses. Five bodies were recovered so far. 11 people have been rescued from the debris. It is suspected one more person is trapped, say reports.

12 more relief teams leave for Kerala

In addition to the 18 teams are already deployed in the state, 12 more teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) - 6 from Delhi and 6 from Gandhinagar - are being airlifted to Thiruvananthapuram.


Flood affects all: Kerala superstar Prithviraj's mother rescued

Mallika Sukumaran, noted actress and mother of Prithviraj and Indrajit rescued from her home in Thiruvananthapuram.


Watch: Massive landslide in Kannur


Want to help flood victims in Kerala?

Kerala government has set up a website to co-ordinate the relief operations following unprecedented flood situation in the state. You can request for help, get in touch with needy, contribute and register as a volunteer.