Kochi: At least a thousand people are still stranded in five villages around Chengannur town in flood-hit Kerala, even as the weather office has said heavy rain is likely to subside in the coastal state. Rescuers have also found some bodies as the floodwaters recede.
In worst-hit areas such as Thrissur and Chengannur, rescuers are searching inundated houses where they have found the bodies of those trapped by the fast-rising floodwaters. They didn’t think that it would rise this high – 10 to 15 feet at some places – when the initial warnings were issued,
A few trains packed with people are running between state capital Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam, 200 km apart. Floodwater has started receding in some areas. However, the bigger concern now is lack of clean drinking water and diseases due to mosquito infestation. Commercial flight operations to Kochi also resumed Monday after the Navy activated its airstrips to accommodate small passenger aircraft.
As rescue operations in Kerala entered its final stages, the biggest challenge before the authorities in the flood aftermath turned into managing the over 5,500 relief camps housing more than 7,00,000 people across the state.
The weather looked promising with no major rainfall expected in the state. Many people though continued to wait for rescue to arrive in several parts of Ernakulam district and interior Chengannur in Alappuzha district.
The death toll stands at 370, from May 29 when Kerala got the first of the monsoon rains, with the bulk of the fatalities being reported after August 9.
A tragedy of unprecedented proportion gripped the state after sluice gates of several rain-filled dams had to be opened.
Helicopters started their rescue operations in places where people still remained marooned Monday,. Several of the other helicopters transported food and relief materials from here.
Chengannur legislator Saji Cherian said: “We have despatched 70 rescue teams in boats who have reached 60 places where people are still trapped. We are confident that by Monday evening all will be rescued.”
In Ernakulam, Paravur legislator VD Sateeshan said while a huge majority of those stranded have been rescued, at least 1,500 are still trapped in very remote areas. Accessibility is the biggest problem.
“We are sending individual rescue teams to these places and hopefully we will be able to save them,” said Sateeshan.
Some people trapped in water-logged Kuttanadu in Alappuzha had refused to board the rescue boats. A lot of persuasion was required from the police teams to bring them to relief camps.
Rains in the catchment areas of the big dams in Idukki district have also subsided. The outflow of water from both the Mullaperiyar and Idukki dams has been reduced.
As a result, the water flow into the Periyar and its tributaries that flow through Ernakulam and Thrissur has come down considerably.
The railways started operations in the Kottayam sector and also to other sectors to Shornur.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation also began operations from many depots and it was expected to be fully functional in a day or two.
Kerala faced the heaviest rains and consequent floods and destruction since 1924, and the state government estimates the loss to be around Rs 19,500 crore.