Rain abates in flood-hit Kerala, fears of disease in camps

Minnie Murray
August 19, 2018

A deluge in India's flood-stricken southwestern state of Kerala finally let up on Sunday, giving some respite for thousands of marooned families, while authorities feared an outbreak of disease among over 200,000 people crammed into relief camps. Airlines operating from Muscat to Kochi said that the scheduled flights between Muscat and Kochi will now operate to Trivandrum Airport until August 26.

The President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has ordered a National Emergency Committee to ensure relief for the victims of the floods in Kerala. We are trying to rescue people. "We're safe compared to many others, but we're cut off", said James Joseph Moolakkaat, owner of an agricultural business who lives in a 10-story building across the southwestern state's Periyar river.

Record monsoon rainfall has claimed at least 324 lives in the state, Kerala's chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said on Twitter.

Vijayan thanked the Centre for the financial aid, but critics slammed the PM on the social media and compared his expenses on foreign trips and advertising with the relief package for Kerala.

I believe that under your able guidance and leadership, the people of Kerala would recover soon from the losses that they have suffered.

People trapped without food, water and electricity anxious about being left without help as their phone batteries were dying.

With water levels at reservoirs still at unsafe levels and fears of the situation getting worse, only now is it slowly seeping into the North Indian mindset that the southern state is in dire trouble.

Rescuers in helicopters and boats fought through torrential rain on Saturday to reach stranded villages. Till yesterday, the NDRF teams were operational in Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulum, Idukki, Mallapuram, Wayanad and Kozhikode.

Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of the calamity.

Many people have seen no help for days and can only be reached by boat or helicopter.

The Prime Minister directed the National Highways Authority of India to fix the main national highways damaged due to the floods on a priority basis.

Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said, "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons". A special train will be back on the Kottayam sector on Sunday, after all services on this route were suspended for the past two days. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.

The floods have caused an estimated $3 billion in damage but the bill is likely to rise as the scale of devastation becomes clearer.

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