Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Sunday that most of those who have been stranded due to the floods have been evacuated even as rescuers continued to battle adverse conditions to help stranded people out to safety. He said that focus would now be on their rehabilitation.
For the first time since 8 August, when heavy rains started wreaking havoc in the southern state, people in Kerala heaved a sigh of relief as there was respite from the rains in most parts of the state today.
Red alert was lifted in several districts though orange alert was kept on.
Earlier today, President Ram Nath Kovind spoke to Kerala Governor P Sathasivam and the CM enquiring about the situation.
“Assured the people of the state that entire nation was with them,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan tweeted.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had already announced that all passports damaged in the Kerala floods will be renewed free of cost by the central government.
“There are unprecedented floods in Kerala causing huge damage. We have decided that as the situation becomes normal, passports damaged on account floods shall be replaced free of charge. Please contact the concerned Passport Kendras. #KeralaFloods Pls RT,” she wrote on 12 August.
“Scheduled domestic airlines have mounted additional flights to/from Trivandrum, Calicut & Coimbatore airports to minimize passenger inconvenience. Nine foreign carriers have also rescheduled their flights to/from Trivandrum,” Union Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu wrote on Sunday.
“Based upon request received from Kerala Govt. to facilitate them in air dropping of relief material, DGCA is in contact with three private helicopter operators to carry out such relief operations. These operators are currently coordinating with the State Govt. Officials,” he added.
Scheduled domestic airlines have also been advised to ensure that airfares for flights to/from Trivandrum and Calicut airports in Kerala and nearby airports i.e. Mangalore and Coimbatore are kept at optimal level proportionate to sector distance. (7/n)
— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) August 19, 2018
The deadliest deluge since 1924 has claimed 370 lives so far. More than 80 dams were opened, leading to floods while the rains also triggered landslides. High-range Idukki district, Malappuram and Thrissur are among the worst hit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday undertook an aerial survey of monsoon ravaged areas and announced an immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore.
In good news, the rainfall intensity over Kerala has decreased over the past two days, the meteorology department said today, adding there is no alert of heavy precipitation for the next four days in the state.
The number of those displaced in the torrential rains was today put at 7,24,649 lakh by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who said that all of them were in 5,645 relief camps.
Around 22,000 people were rescued today in the operations launched by the defence personnel, national and state disaster response forces, fishermen and local people.
The Chief Minister said in each panchayat six health officers would be deployed to ensure there was no outbreak of any communicable diseases as the flood water recedes. Vijayan said the state government would distribute 36 lakh textbooks free of cost to school children who had lost their books in the floods.
Vijayan reiterated his request to the nation for donations.
“Kerala is facing its worst flood in 100 years. This flood is also one of the worst floods in our country’s history. More than half a million people are displaced. Your help can rebuild the lives of these affected. Donate to: donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in,” he wrote on Twitter.
Connectivity limping back
Commercial flight operations from Kochi, hit following the closure of its international airport due to flooding, would resume tomorrow from the Naval airport to Coimbatore and Bengaluru, bringing some relief to travellers.
The railways cancelled at least 18 trains, partially cancelled nine others and diverted Kanyakumari-Mumbai CST express train via Nagercoil today. Skeletal services were run between Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram and on Alapuzha-Kottayam routes.
The trains were packed with flood affected people moving to the houses of their friends and relatives.
Efforts are on to restore power and water supply in areas where the power systems have been completely destroyed.
As per a preliminary estimate, there was Rs 4,441 crore loss to the government following the damage to roads and bridges. At least 220 bridges have been damaged and 59 were still under water, officials said.
(With inputs from agencies.)