With over 6.33 lakh people taking shelter in 3,000 relief camps, the government on Sunday directed the central ministries to focus on providing essential commodities and medicine and restoration of vital services in flood-hit Kerala. The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) in its review meeting directed that focus should now be on provision of emergency supplies of food, water, medicines and restoration of essential services such as power, fuel, telecom and transport links as flood water recedes in Kerala, an official spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, no respite seems to be in sight for flood-battered Kerala, where the death toll has gone up to 368 as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state. The India Meteorological Department on Saturday afternoon forecast that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, are likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood during the next 24 hours. However, Red Alert has now been reduced from eleven to just three districts in the southern state.
The NDRF has evacuated over 10,000 people from the heavy rains and flood waters affected areas of Kerala till now as it said it has launched its biggest-ever relief and rescue operation in the country till date.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday. The 33 deaths reported during the day took place in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts.
Rejecting a demand from the Congress-led opposition and Kerala BJP to hand over the rescue operations to the Army, he said: "In a rescue operation, the most important thing is that it should be done only by the local authorities who are well-versed with the locality, and the Army and other agencies' help is sought and a combined operation is done."
Kerala Floods Latest Updates:
09:18 pm: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to airlift 60 tonnes of emergency medicines tomorrow. A special train with 14 lakh litres of water & Navy ship with 8 lakh litres of water to reach Kerala by tomorrow: Government of India
09:17 pm: Two special trains will run tomorrow to Kolkata from Trivandrum & Ernakulam. Train services expected to restore on all lines by tomorrow evening. Commercial flights will start operating from Kochi Naval Base from tomorrow: Government of India
09:10 pm: Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh appeals to UP Police to voluntarily donate one day salary for Kerala flood victims
08:08 pm: The Dept of Food & Public Distribution has provided 50,000 million tonnes (MT) of food grains. The Dept of Consumer Affairs has made arrangements to airlift 100 metric tonnes of pulses by tomorrow with additional quantities to be sent by train: Government of India
08:07 pm: The Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry has made available 9,300 kilolitres of kerosene to Kerala. Additional 12,000 kilolitres of kerosene will be allocated. LPG bottling plant in Kochi has been reopened: Government of India
06:00 pm: 244 Fire Service Personnel trained in rescue ops with 65 rescue boats&other equipment have been sent from Odisha to Kerala to help in rescue ops. Odisha CM directed Odisha Relief Commissioner to extend all help to people from the state stranded in Kerala
05:00 pm: It is expected that for the next 5 days there won't be heavy rainfall in Kerala, rainfall will gradually decrease over the state: Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, India Meteorological Department
03:47 pm: Today, total 288 boats available at air force station. Many river-rafting volunteers have been brought from Rishikesh.26 helicopters are in operation. One team of Task Force Commanders placed in Trivandrum & one in Kochi: Air Marshal B Suresh, Southern Air Command
03:45 pm: Home Minister of Telangana Naini Narshimha Reddy handed over a cheque of Rs 25 Crore to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan earlier on Sunday. 50 RO machines worth Rs 2.5 Crore will be airlifted from Begumpet (Telangana) to Kerala shortly, to provide clean drinking water
2:42 pm: Indian Naval Ship Deepak disembarked rations and drinking water at Southern Navy Command earlier today in Kochi.
2:35 pm: West Bengal government to give Rs 10 crore for Kerala flood relief.
2:22 pm: JSW Group has said it has initiated a group-wide initiative wherein its employees voluntarily contribute in cash as well as in kind, TVS Motor Company has contributed Rs one crore to the Kerala Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).
2:17 pm: Community kitchen setup at Kochi naval base catering to nearly 7000 people affected due to floods.
2:09 pm: Indian Air Force air drops relief material to people in flood hit areas of Kochi.
1:52 pm: 58 of our NDRF teams are deployed across 8 districts of the state. They're carrying out rescue & evacuation work & extending medical emergency aids. Now that rain has subsided to some extent, our teams are being relocated partly to worst-affected areas: NDRF DG.
1:41 pm: A Joint team comprising representatives from DGCA, BCAS, CISF, AAI &Indian Navy carried out inspection of Cochin Naval Base today to check the feasibility of scheduled operations from there.Steps being taken to start operations with ATR-72 from 20th Aug, tweets Suresh Prabhu
1:37 pm: 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, tweets Union civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu
1:28 pm: National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescues a pregnant woman from Alappad village in Cherpu police station area.
1:23 pm: Road clearance work underway in Nelliyampathy hill station after multiple landslides damaged the roads
1:13 pm: Wing Commander Prasanth of Garud Special Force of Indian Air Force rescues a toddler from rooftop in flood hit town of Alappuzha.
12:21 pm: Government school in converted to a relief camp for Kerala Floods in Chengannur, total 115 people have taken shelter at the camp.
12:00 pm: Attorney General K K Venugopal donates Rs one crore towards relief work in flood-hit Kerala.
11:51 am: Veterinary Hospital converted to a relief shelter in Idukki district's Vandiperiyar, total 35 people are staying at the shelter.
11:47 am: President Kovind expressed satisfaction that the Union and state governments were working together and in synergy in rescue and relief operations in Kerala. He praised relief agencies such as NDRF and public officials at state and Central level for their response and commitment.
11:46 am: President Kovind spoke to the Governor and the Chief Minister of Kerala and inquired about the flood situation. He acknowledged the grit and resilience of the people of Kerala in coming together in this trying hour. Assured the people of the state that entire nation was with them.
11:12 am: The IAS Officers Association of Andhra Pradesh to contribute one day salary of its members for Kerala floods.
10:56 am: At 10 am today, the water level in the Idukki reservoir was 2402.28 ft; water flow into Periyar river is 913 cusecs per hour. Two shutters have been closed.
10:44 am: Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has restored all its services to Kerala's Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palghat, Kozhikode, Kannur and Trivandrum. First service to start at 4 pm to Trivandrum from Bengaluru. Services to Kasaragod not restored.
10:37 am: RAF team recovered one body from Nemmara landslide area in Palakkad district early morning today.Dy Commandant RAF Coimbatore unit, says, "We have recovered total 10 bodies from the area. Landslides are still occurring in the area,it was a tough task to recover the bodies"
10:13 am: Red alert withdrawn for all districts of Kerala today. Orange alert issued for 10 districts, yellow alert for 2 districts.
10:00 am: As part of the efforts to extend a helping hand to flood-affected Kerala, the Central Railway has sent over 14 lakh litres of drinking water to the southern state by a special train from Pune. The water train consists of 14 wagons (containing 7 lakh litres of water) filled up in Pune and 15 wagons (containing 7.5 lakh litres of water) that came from Ratlam.
While more than 58,000 people were rescued in districts like Ernakulam, Chengannur, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, there are still many more waiting to be rescued.
Vijayan said that the red alert has now been limited to Ernakulam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts only.
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in the affected areas.
Earlier in the day, Vijayan told Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a review meeting in Kochi that the death toll since May 29 had climbed to 357 and over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps.
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.
Vijayan in the morning told the media that the situation is "very serious and grave".
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of the calamity.
"There are many people waiting to be rescued in areas like Pandanad (near Chengannur) and I saw two bodies floating in the water. If there is anymore delay in, things will taken a turn for the worse. We are drinking rain water to keep us going...," said a resident of Pandanad.
On Saturday night, a 150-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team started rescue operations in and around affected areas of Chengannur.
Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, who was spearheading the rescue operations in Paravur in Ernakulam district, said that he stood before a rescue boat team with folded hands and they obliged and rescued several people.
National award winning actor Salimkumar, after remaining holed up in his house along with 45 others for three days, was finally rescued by a fishing boat on Saturday evening.
Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
Alappuzha District Collector S. Suhas said since morning 150 boats including house boats have been engaged in rescuing people and "today (Saturday) we evacuated about 75 per cent of people who were waiting to be rescued".
"Around two lakhs people are now in various camps. This could well be the biggest rescue operation," Suhas said.
Journalist-turned-CPI-M legislator Veena George on Saturday turned critical "due to the way the government machinery in Pathanamthitta has been working".
"None has a clue of how many people have been rescued and how many are left to be rescued. There seems to be disconnect in coordination of the operations," said George.
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting to return home.
However, a landslide near Nelliyampathy in Palakkad district has left around 1,000 people cut off from the mainland and the Army is working to clear the debris.
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff failed to report for the duty due to flooding.
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
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.
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad-Aluva highway was cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
Kerala Flood: Need assistance? Here are all major helpline numbers and location of rescue camps-
(With inputs from agencies)