Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is facing its worst flood in 100 years and it has killed 324 people over the last nine days, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said, issuing a fresh rain alert for the battered state. The state is not just battling rain anymore; it is grappling with floods and landslides, shortage of oxygen and medical supplies; fuel pumps are running dry and an epidemic is staring the marooned in the face.
Over three lakh people have been displaced and are in relief camps while the number of those affected is over two crores. Desperate for help, residents have been uploading SOS videos on social media, seeking rescue boats and relief supplies. CM Vijayan said that over 80,000 people were rescued on Friday itself. The most heart rending was the WhatsApp video of an elderly person, one Mary Varghese, who is badly in need of an oxygen cylinder, and her condition is worsening. The stranded woman with her 6-year-old child was seen pleading for help. “We have no food or water. Please help us.”
A PTI reporter described the situation in Palakkad town where his elderly parents live. ‘‘When I called them from New Delhi in panic, they told me water had entered the ground floor of our two-story house. Furniture was floating, they said. The refrigerator had been knocked down; utensils, knickknacks and clothes had been swept away; the kitchen was gutted. With water filling all the rooms, they had moved to the first floor, which is an independent unit.’’
The chief minister is touch with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reached Kerala on Friday evening. In the morning, PM Modi tweeted, “Had a telephone conversation with Kerala CM. We discussed the flood situation across the state and reviewed rescue operations.’’ Though the met office has said the rainfall will continue till Saturday, the intensity has lessened slightly. A tweet from the Chief Minister’s Office said, “There is a red alert in all districts, except Kasargod and Kannur. The Meteorological Department has warned that heavy rains may hit these 13 districts.”
Southern Naval Command had deployed a total of 58 rescue and diving teams with Gemini boats in multiple locations. Hundreds of fishermen from coastal villages have joined the rescue efforts at Pathanamthitta, where helicopters are airlifting people to safer places. The Indian Navy has sent fleet replenishment tanker INS Deepak from Mumbai to Kochi with 8 lakh litres of drinking water. INS Deepak is scheduled to reach Kochi on August 19.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has announced Rs 25 crore as immediate assistance towards Kerala Floods. Punjab and Delhi too will be contributing Rs 10 crore each. Vijayan has appealed to the people to come forward with donations. “The road to recovery is going to be a long one. Your help, no matter how small, will be a step to restore normalcy,” he said.