Thousands of stranded people are waiting for rescue as relentless monsoon floods batter the south Indian state of Kerala and leave hundreds dead.
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Searching for bodies; 22,000 people rescued on Sunday
Receding flood waters left Indian troops and rescuers the grim task Monday of hunting for bodies left by the worst monsoon in a century in Kerala state as the death toll rose above 400.
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.
Officials said 22,000 people were rescued 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.
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.
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.
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.
More rain forecast
Weather officials have predicted more rain across Kerala through Monday morning. The downpours that started August 8 have triggered floods and landslides and caused homes and bridges to collapse across Kerala, a picturesque state known for its quiet tropical backwaters and beautiful beaches.
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.
Red alert has been withdrawn from all districts of Kerala on Sunday. Orange alert issued for ten districts, yellow alert (weather conditions that do not pose an immediate threat to the general population, but only to those exposed to risk by nature of their location and/or activity) for two districts.
Kerala death toll rises to 357
The death toll from the worst flooding to hit India's Kerala state in a century has jumped to 357, authorities said on Sunday, with losses to infrastructure pegged at some $3 billion.
"Since May 29, when the monsoon starts in Kerala, a total of 357 people have lost their lives until now," a statement from the state's information officer said, with 33 losing their lives over the last 24 hours.
Some 353,000 people have taken shelter in 3,026 relief camps as thousands of army, navy and air force troops fan out to help those still stranded. Roads and 134 bridges have suffered damage, isolating remote areas in the hilly districts of the state which are worst affected.
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.
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.
All our MPs, MLAs and MLC to donate their one month salary for flood relief in Kerala. A special relief committee will be made to send essential items to Kerala: Randeep Surjewala, Congress. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/qQNFepQMV9— ANI (@ANI) August 18, 2018
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.
The people of Kerala have always been and are still part of our success story in the UAE. We have a special responsibility to help and support those affected, especially during this holy and blessed days pic.twitter.com/ZGom5A6WRy— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) August 17, 2018
സഹോദരീ സഹോദരൻമാരെ, ഇന്ത്യയിലെ കേരള സംസ്ഥാനം കനത്ത പ്രളയത്തിലൂടെ കടന്നുപോവുകയാണ്. നൂറ്റാണ്ടിലെ ഏറ്റവും മാരകമായ പ്രളയമാണിത്. നൂറുകണക്കിനാളുകൾ മരിച്ചു, ആയിരക്കണക്കിനാളുകൾ ഭവന രഹിതരായി. ഈദ് അൽ അദ്ഹയുടെ മുന്നോടിയായി, ഇന്ത്യയിലെ സഹോദരങ്ങൾക്ക് സഹായ ഹസ്തം നീട്ടാൻ മറക്കരുത്. pic.twitter.com/9h0nSDUhBf— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) August 17, 2018
A big thanks to @hhshkmohd for his gracious offer to support people of Kerala during this difficult time. His concern reflects the special ties between governments and people of India and UAE.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 18, 2018
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.
On World Humanitarian Day, we recall our rich human heritage, our values, tenets and our good work. Today, we stand together to provide relief to the citizens of Kerala, which has been ravaged by floods. The UAE will remain a land of love and peace and a beacon of good. pic.twitter.com/2TFXC8AntT— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) August 18, 2018
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.
I spoke to Kerala CM today. We've decided that a train full of rice worth around Rs 7.5 crores will leave for Kerala tomorrow. 3 crores will be provided in cash. Doctors, soldiers & even public of our state is ready to go there to help: Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/Mm5kjgKkKZ— ANI (@ANI) August 18, 2018
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.
More rain predicted in Kerala
Red alert is active in 11 districts, with the weather bureau predicting heavy rain over the next few days in all districts, except in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasargod.
Rescuers in helicopters and boats fought to get to stranded villages as the toll rose above 320 dead.
Dozens of military and coastguard helicopters flew in torrential rain to reach high risk areas, officials said, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing the crisis as "devastating".
State officials said they expected the number to rise further as more landslides were reported and as dam and reservoir levels remained dangerously high.
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.
A pregnant lady with water bag leaking has been airlifted and evacuated to Sanjivani. Doctor was lowered to assess the lady. Operation successful #OpMadad #KeralaFloodRelief #KeralaFloods2018 pic.twitter.com/bycGXEBV8q— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 17, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dear PM,— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 18, 2018
Please declare #Kerala floods a National Disaster without any delay. The lives, livelihood and future of millions of our people is at stake.
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.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accompanied by Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Governor P. Sathasivam and Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons during aerial survey of flood affected areas. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/s0LB2Z9J3q— ANI (@ANI) August 18, 2018
Death toll rises
The state is "facing the worst floods in 100 years", chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Twitter, adding that at least 324 lives have been lost so far.
Football teams also came out in support of flood victims.
Dear @KeralaReds Our international supporters liaison team will be in contact to see what we can do to help. Thank you for reaching out, and please know that all of us here @LFC are thinking about you in this time of extreme difficulty #YNWA https://t.co/UJzscZZS6Y— Peter Moore (@PeterMooreLFC) August 17, 2018
Liverpool FC India: You will Never Walk Alone #YNWA
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the floods in Kerala.— LFC India (@LFCIndia) August 16, 2018
Those willing to help in any way can reach out to our official supporters club in the state - @KeralaReds
• All the 44 rivers in Kerala are overflowing at present
• 33 water reservoirs in Kerala have opened their floodgates after incessant rain in catchment areas
• Death toll reaches 324, more than 200,000 homeless
• Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations.
• Red alert in 13 of 14 districts in Kerala
• One of three major airports in the state, Cochin International Airport shut down till August 26
• Holiday declared for all educational institutions in Kerala; exams cancelled
• State government has cancelled Onam celebrations
More than 300 killed
More than 300 people have been killed in the Indian state of Kerala by the worst flooding to hit the region in a century, authorities said on Friday, as troop reinforcements stepped up rescue efforts.
The state - a key international tourist draw with its tropical mountains and beaches - has been battered by record monsoon rainfall in recent days and is "facing the worst flood in 100 years", chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
In a Twitter statement released by his office, he said there had been "324 lives lost", a tripling of the death toll in the last 24 hours.
Vijayan added that 223,139 people have been moved to more than 1,500 relief camps.
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
#KeralaFloods update: Red alert has been issued in all 13 districts except Kasaragod today. Red alert has been issued for tomorrow also in Ernakulam and Idukki districts. 94 people have lost their lives in the floods. pic.twitter.com/zJ0TRoVyRw— ANI (@ANI) August 17, 2018
Indian Coast Guard's rescue&relief team from Vandiperiyar has been shifted to the flood affected Manjumala village. The team has rescued 16 stranded people from the village. Food & dry ration has been distributed among them, rescue operation is underway. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/K42bszAiHT— ANI (@ANI) August 17, 2018
Hundreds saved as floods kill 164
Rescue workers used helicopters and boats to evacuate hundreds of people stranded on their home rooftops following unprecedented flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala where 164 people have died.
With torrential rains stopping on Friday, thousands of rescuers worked quickly to shift the marooned people to 1,200 state-run camps where more than 150,000 people already have taken shelter.
Heavy rains over the past eight days triggered flooding, landslides and home and road bridge collapses, severely disrupting air and train services in Kerala.
State officials have put the death toll at 164 since August 8.
CM urges people to be cautions
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged people to be cautions as heavy rains predicted for 13 districts.
Alert: All districts apart from Kasargod are under red alert. The Meteorological Department warns that heavy rains may affect these 13 districts. Everyone please be cautious. #KeralaFloods— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 17, 2018
Pandalam town flooded by Achankovil waters
Pandalam town in southern Kerala is completely submerged with water level in Achankovil river is rising at an alarming rate.
Traffic on Main Central Road (MC Road), the arterial state highway of southern Kerala, remains completely disrupted since Thursday.
According to reports, the water level started rising early this morning and this caught many by surprise. Hundreds of people have reportedly been trapped in their house and waiting for rescue.
Indian Navy braces for another hectic day of relief operations in Kerala
All Birds airborne with relief material and Divers pic.twitter.com/yUWdF5b6xd— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 17, 2018
Wheels up.... pic.twitter.com/MpLeZrWyZT— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 17, 2018
Relief material being loaded on a Seaking pic.twitter.com/bjxZeuYkEX— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 17, 2018
#OpMadad #KeralaFloodRelief #KeralaFloods2018 #IndianNavy SNC commences relief operations from Naval Air station INS Garuda with first light - food and supplies loaded on Naval aircraft Seaking, ALHs & Chetaks get airborne pic.twitter.com/ekLWgc2sgU— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 17, 2018
Additional assets being deployed for Rescue Operations 2/2 pic.twitter.com/Lol2BGeYAC— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 16, 2018
#OpMadad #KeralaFloods2018 #KeralaFloodRelief #IndianNavy sending additional rubberised boats and Divers to flood affected areas to speed up rescue operations 1/2 @DefenceMinIndia @SpokespersonMoD @nsitharaman @CMOKerala @DG_PIB pic.twitter.com/xSCSeRVSvC— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 16, 2018
Scenes from Relief camps set up inside an aircraft hangar in Naval Base Kochi
Around 180 locals airlifted from affected areas present in the Relief Camp. Mobile phones, landlines, basic amenities incl night clothing provided. 24X7 medical care with ambulance provided at the camp. pic.twitter.com/yl2HiYm3cL— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) August 16, 2018
Airlines advised to keep air fares in check for Kerala flights
The Central government has asked domestic airlines to keep a check on air fares for flights operating to and from Kerala.
The advisory comes as the state suffers from one of the worst bouts of floods in the recent past.
"We have advised airlines to be more sensitive to situation arising out of #KeralaFlooding & keep airfares in check. It's a humanitarian cause. Thx to all for agreeing with my suggestions to carry free of charge the #KeralaFloodRelief related material. All efforts ongoing for relief," Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu tweeted.
According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, airfare on 18 domestic routes are being monitored.
"Spike in airfare on few routes have been observed. Concerned airlines have been advised to cap the airfare on these flights," the Ministry said in a statement on late Thursday.
Echoing the general mood, Minister of Statistics & Programme Implementation D.V. Sadananda Gowda tweeted: "Private Airlines are at a money making Shame!! Today Mangalore to Bengaluru ticket rate sky-rocketed to Rs 18,000. This route's average rate is never more than Rs 4,000. It's time to introduce more flights @jayantsinha."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
#WATCH: Rescue operations held by Coast Guard helicopters over Ernakulam, earlier today. 132 people have been rescued from Thrissur, Aluva & Perumbavoor by Coast Guard helicopters today. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/JqJ0dsbSPs— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2018
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.
We have deployed teams in 7 districts. 14 teams are already there and today we are sending another 12 teams & if required more teams will be sent. We are working for rescue, evacuation and relief in coordination with the state authorities: Sanjay Kumar, DG NDRF #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/VoTyptz641— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2018
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.
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.
Alert: the water-level in both Periyar and Chalakudy rivers will rise. People in 1km radius of Chalakudy, and those inside ½ km of radius of Aluva, must evacuate the place immediately. #KeralaFloods2018— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 16, 2018
"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.
12 more teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) - 6 from Delhi and 6 from Gandhinagar - are being airlifted to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. 18 teams are already deployed in the state. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/uCcm8TTAlg— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2018
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.
Floodwaters spread to Kalamassery, Kochi
Kerala chief minister on flood situation
Very serious situation is prevailing in the state as nearly all villages are flood affected. I had a telephonic conversation with PM, HM and Defence minister, they have offered all support. More helicopters to be deployed soon: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/nFkLVNDSe6— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2018
Indian Air Force airlifts a person to safety
Toll touches 79, rains continue
With rains still pouring down heavilty leading to flooding of dams and rivers across Kerala, 12 fresh deaths were reported on Thursday, taking the toll to 79, since August 8.
Entire Kerala has been on a red alert since Wednesday evening. A total of 28 deaths were reported on the day.
The deaths on Thursday were reported from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Thrissur.
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala has been the worst affected in the last 24 hours as thousands of people -- students among others were trapped in their homes in Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.
Visuals from a relief centre
Fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
Various media Whats App groups, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's have been flooded with SOS messages from Pathanamthitta crying for help.
Parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur have been facing tough times with the dam waters from Idukki districts reaching Periyar, and its tributaries late on Wednesday.
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur has been regulated since.
Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped and at Thiruvananthapuram railway station tickets are not being issued.
5 killed in landslides in Palakkad
Five persons were killed in a landslide in Palakkad district of Kerala on Thursday even as torrential rains led to the collapse of the public transport system in many parts of the state.
Palakkad district police sources said the five persons were killed in Nenmara while two were rescued.
Reports of a landslide have also come in from Thrissur district and some people are said to be missing, the sources said.
Disaster Response Force evacuates 926 to safety
Water level in Mullaperiyar Dam at 142 feet
Southern Railways, Kochi Metro suspend operations
The public transport system collapsed in many parts of central Kerala with the Southern Railways and Kochi Metro on Thursday suspending their operations due to floods.
Rise in flood waters in Periyar river due to continuous rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir, and Idamalayar, have severely hit life of people in the downstream areas.
The floods have affected the transport system to the Kochi city.
"Due to rise in water level at Bridge No 176 on Downline between Angamali and Aluva, The services on this bridge is suspended," a Southern railway spokesman said in a statement early Thursday.
The Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) also suspended its operations this morning after its yard in Muttom near Aluva submerged in the flood waters.
"Kochi Metro train operation is suspended as the water level rises in Muttom yard area," a KMRL statement said.
The service will be resumed once the water comes down and the systems are back in good condition, its spokesperson said.
Bus services to Kochi were also affected after National Highways connecting the city submerged in Kalamassery area, officials said.
Cochin International Airport had yesterday suspended all flight operations till Saturday as water entered in the airport area following continuous rains and the opening of dam shutters in Periyar river.
Death toll reaches 75
The flood toll in the south Indian state of Kerala jumped to 75 after 7 deaths were reported on Thursday. 25 people were reported dead on Wednesday, with more than 50,000 people seeking shelter in relief camps.
Kerala is battered by the monsoon every year but the rains have been particularly severe this season, flooding hundreds of villages and prompting the authorities to suspend flights in and out of the region.
"The situation is bad in many parts of the state and the number (of deaths) will likely increase," a senior official from the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority said.
UAE embassy helpline numbers
UAE embassy in New Delhi has requested Emiratis in India to call for assistance on 00911126111111 in case of emergencies. They can also call State Department's Call Center at 80044444, the embassy said in a tweet.
Kerala helpline numbers
Kerala State Disaster Management Authority has posted the emergency helpline numbers for various districts
Red alert in all 14 states
The official added that authorities had issued a "red-alert" warning in all 14 districts of the flood-ravaged state, with heavy downpours expected over the next 24 hours in many of the worst affected areas.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's office announced on Twitter that Kochi International Airport - the main gateway to the region - would be closed until Saturday "due to heavy rains and resultant flooding".
Water level in Achankoil river at Alappuzha's Kollakadavu rises
Rain continues to lash #Kerala; Visuals from Alappuzha district's Mavelikara. Till now 67 people have lost their lives caused by flooding due to heavy and incessant rains in the state. #KeralaFloods pic.twitter.com/iLzaNlNsko— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2018
Vijayan held emergency meetings with rescue officials in the state late Wednesday and discussed the situation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
7 people rescued in Ranni, Pathanamthitta
The chief minister has requested the deployment of additional personnel from the Indian army, navy and other emergency forces who are already working across the state, which is home to around 33 million people.
"Our state is in the midst of an unprecedented flood havoc," Vijayan said earlier this week. "The calamity has caused immeasurable misery and devastation."
Authorities have opened the gates of 34 reservoirs as water reached dangerous levels.
Vijayan's office on Wednesday said that the authorities were also worried about rising water levels in the massive Mullaperiyar dam, and urged officials in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu to release water from the reservoir.
Hundreds of villages have been flooded, more than 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of roads and thousands of homes have been destroyed or damaged across the state, officials said.
"We have asked all airlines, domestic and foreign, to reschedule their Cochin flights either from Trivandrum or from Calicut," Suresh Prabhu, India's civil aviation minister said on Twitter.
"For international flights, this will require special dispensation which has been granted considering the emergency DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is coordinating," he added.
The US embassy last week advised Americans to avoid Kerala, which drew more than one million foreign tourists last year, according to official data.