Mumbai: The Southern Naval Command started scaling down “Operation Madad” consequent to rains having reduced to a large extent and flood waters starting to recede from many waterlogged areas in Kerala. As of 4.30 pm on August 20, the 11th day of “Operation Madad”, the total number of diving teams deployed had been reduced to 51, with 41 teams having returned after completing their rescue mission. A total of 350 people were rescued by boats on 20th Aug, taking the total rescued to 15,993. No requests for rescue by airlift were received; however, 35 air sorties amounting to 62 hours of flying were undertaken by various naval aircraft, mainly for air dropping of relief material – especially food and water.
A total of 20 rescue teams with one Gemini boat each are deployed in Ernakulam district. One team is at Pizhala island, one at Edapally, seven at Perumbavur, three at North Paravur, one at Aluva and seven at Kadangallur. In Pathanamthitta district, 21 teams are deployed at Chengannur and nine are positioned at Thiruvalla.
One specialist diving team airlifted to Kannur successfully undertook diving operations at Pazhassi Dam and was successfully able to remove mud from a landslide blocking the water pumping mechanism, which has enabled restoration of the primary supply of water to Kannur city. Ongoing heavy rains and flash floods had led to increased water levels at the dam. Due to heavy siltation, the water inlet chamber at the bottom of the Dam had got choked. Accordingly, naval diving assistance was requested by District Collector. The team worked tirelessly in difficult conditions such as strong water flow, poor underwater visibility, lack of reference position and heavy rains.
Based on a request received from civil authorities, another rescue team was dispatched to Thrissur district, which was able to save 109 lives. A bridge across a stream had broken and 109 personnel were trapped on the other side. The rescue team displayed extreme professionalism, innovation and courage in bringing back all the stranded people back to safety. They joined six ropes to make a line across the fast flowing stream, using trees as anchors. The team started to fashion the rescue line at around 3 pm on Aug 19 and were able to rescue all the personnel trapped on the other side including infants, ladies, children and senior citizens by 7.30 pm.