Kerala floods: 1 mn people in relief camps, says Tourism Minister


The severe floods swelled rivers and triggered landslides.

Almost 725,000 people have taken shelter in relief camps, state government spokesman Subhash T.V. told AFP on Sunday.Bedraggled survivors massing at evacuation centres have described desperate scenes after days without food or water.

According to a lawmaker in Pathanamthitta district, some 10,000 people were stranded and in grave danger unless they were rescued urgently. No requests for air rescue were received; however, naval aircraft conducted 35 air sorties amounting to 62 hours of flying mainly for air dropping relief material. Rescuers fear the death toll will rise as they reach areas nearly entirely underwater.Thousands remain trapped - often without food or water - in towns and villages cut off by the floods, and heavy rain forecast in coming days threatens to compound the disaster.

Vijayan said they would ask the Centre to allow Kerala to increase the market borrowings from 3 per cent of the state's total revenue to 4.5 per cent.

Witnesses say that looking down on towns in flooded Kerala is like looking down on a sea dotted with houses and cars in muddy flood waters.

"The flood has bonded the people like never before, with people sharing whatever they had".

People are being evacuated after authorities opened the gates of Idamalayar, Cheruthoni and Mullaperiyar dams to prevent potentially disastrous breaches. Necessary steps will be taken to eradicate water carried diseases, especially in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

Hundreds of troops have led a desperate operation to rescue families trapped by rising floods.

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Routes and traffic in the worst-hit areas, including Aluva-Thrissur, Thrissur-Shoranur, Kayamkulam-Kottayam- Ernakulam Shoranur-Tirur, Shoranur- Palakkad have been fixed.

India's navy has also been deployed to help with the mammoth rescue effort, with Kerala calling for more troops to be deployed by central government to assist. The season runs from June to September. "It is expected that for the next 5 days there won't be heavy rainfall in Kerala, rainfall will gradually decrease over the state", the MeT office said.

The Chief Minister's instructions followed a telephone conversation between Kerala government officials and Telangana officials on Monday. Regions such as Ala, a village in the Chenganoor taluka of Alappuzha district are still waterlogged.

Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at Kerala's health department, said the state was preparing to battle any outbreak of diseases in the relief camps and preventive medicines were being distributed. In particular, concerns remain over the lack of clean water.

Due to heavy currents in the flooded river, Chalakudy and Chengannur are now in serious need of help.

"The major airport we all use, where all of us get our flights from, is now closed and it is closed until 26 August".

It is estimated that the floods have caused damage worth $3 billion (€2.6 billion), though the sum is likely to rise as authorities grapple with the full scope of the devastation.

UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted about the floods in Kerala, urging his countrymen to provide assistance in every possible way.