Thiruvananthapuram/Bhubaneswar:The toll due to rain and floods in Kerala has reached 357 this monsoon with the death of 22 more persons Saturday and the government continued red alert in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
The toll due to torrential rains since August 9 reached 194 with the casualties reported from Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Chengannur districts.
The IMD has forecast that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, is likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area over northwest Bay of Bengal.
Barring Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasargode, the remaining 11 districts of Kerala continued to be on red alert following prediction of more rains.
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi. In a memorandum submitted to the Centre, Vijayan said the toll in rain-related incidents since May 29 had climbed to 357. Over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps, he said.
The Centre sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre August 12, before the Prime Minister returned to Delhi after an aerial survey of the affected areas.
Odisha team reaches Kerala
Meanwhile, at the behest of the Centre, the Odisha government Saturday directed a special team of fire services personnel armed with modern equipment to assist in rescue and relief operations in flood-ravaged Kerala.
“Expressing concern over #KeralaFloods, CM @Naveen_Odisha pressed in to assisting rescue ops an Odisha contigent of 245 fire personnel, led by the chief fire officer,” the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) tweeted.
Trained in flood rescue operations, the team comprising 225 fire service personnel, 15 supervisors and other officers reached Kerala Saturday evening through two special aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) carrying 75 power boats and state-of-the-art equipment, said an official.
The team also carried underwater equipment, 10 tower lights, power saws, solar search lights, tents, 137 life buoy, 31 lifelines, 30 sleeping mats and other sophisticated gadgets to carry out rescue work, he said.
Before flagging off the fire service team in Bhubaneswar, director general of fire service BK Sharma said, the state government had decided to depute the team to Kerala on a request from the Centre.
Describing it as a moment of pride for the Odisha fire service, he said, “Our fire service personnel had earned praise for their commendable service in the relief and rescue operations in Andhra Pradesh during Cyclone Hudhud. I hope, our fire personnel will live up to their reputation and play a significant role in the relief and rescue operations in Kerala.”
The Odisha team is expected to rescue people stranded in the floods and take necessary steps to rescue about 130 people from Odisha who had taken shelter at Aluva Munnar Road, Odapally, sources said.
Meanwhile, a four-member team led by assistant labour commissioner has also been sent to Kerala to facilitate the rescue of marooned labourers from Odisha, said Labour Minister Sushant Singh.
According to the sources, more than a hundred labourers from Ganjam, Puri, Nayagarh and Kandhamal are working in Kerala some of whom have taken shelter in factories and other high rise buildings.
The state government has also set up a 24-hour helpline (1070) and 0674-2534177 at the SRC’s office in Bhubaneswar to coordinate with the people in distress in Kerala.
Earlier, the state government had announced a financial assistance of Rs 5 crore for rain-battered Kerala.