Kerala Flood: Rescue begins, rain stops

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The death toll in the disastrous Kerala floods is at 194 and climbing, even as rescuers stepped up efforts to evacuate people displaced by the relentless rain and floods of the last 10 days.

However, the India Meteorological Department has indicated that relief may be around the corner. Its red alert has been withdrawn, and only three states–Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Ernakulam–are on ‘orange alert’ for Sunday. At nearly 2345mm as on August 18, the State has received 42% above-normal rain during this monsoon.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has launched its biggest-ever rescue operation to date. There are 58 NDRF teams (of 35-40 people each) deployed across Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Malappuram, Wayanad and Kozhikode. They have already launched 10,000 people so far. On Saturday alone, at least 20,000 stranded individuals were saved by authorities. As of this afternoon, army personnel had built over 13 temporary bridges to connect 38 remote areas and rescued 3627 people.

According to Chief Minister P Vijayanan loss could be anything above 20,000 crore.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said on Saturday that it has evacuated over 10,000 people from the flood-hit areas as part of its biggest relief and rescue operation till date. A total of 58 teams have been deputed, out of which 55 are already on the ground, said a spokesperson. The teams are operational in Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Malapuram, Wayanad and Kozhikode.

Thousands of houses from Kumarakom to Vaikom in the Kuttanad region were inundated. The rising waters in Vembanad lake flooded houses in Alappuzha town and Thaneermukkom panchayat. The two canals in Alappuzha were also overflowing.

Officials estimate that more than 2,00,000 people, including the aged and the infirm and women and children, would have to be evacuated from Kuttanad. With the relief camps in Alappuzha filled to capacity, the authorities opened shelters at Cherthala to accommodate the rising tide of people fleeing the flooded areas.

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