People marooned at a damaged road in a flood-hit area in Thrissur district of Kerala state in India, on Monday, 20 August 2018. Photo: PTI

NEW DELHI, 20 August 2018 (The Times of India) – The massive flood in Kerala has been declared a calamity of severe nature, the Union home ministry said on Monday.

"Keeping in view the intensity and magnitude of the floods and landslides in Kerala, this is a calamity of a severe nature for all practical purposes," a home ministry official said.

At least 216 people have lost their lives in the rains, floods and landslides in Kerala where over 7.24 lakh displaced people have been sheltered in 5,645 relief camps.

As rains abated and rescue operations were in the final stages, flood-hit Kerala was faced with the gigantic task of rehabilitating lakhs of people rendered homeless and preventing outbreak of diseases.

Lt Gen D R Soni, the chief of the Army's Southern Command , told a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram that rescue operations were still continuing and drones are being used to help reach to people trapped in areas not easily accessible.

He said 1,500 army personnel were engaged in rescue operations and people stranded on rooftops and inaccesible areas were being winched with the help of defence helicopters.

Efforts were now under way to clear the houses of the debris to make them habitable, officials said, underscoring the need for making available disinfectants like bleaching powder in adequate quantities to prevent outbreak of water- borne diseases.

Kerala Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the state is striving together as one to overcome the "catastrophic" floods with "monumental strength".

Referring to some messages being circulated on social media denigrating the relief efforts by the government, he said in a Facebook post that anyone trying to "pull us down will face serious consequences".

To help flood victims, CPI(M) activists in Kerala, India donate their gold earrings to raise money for the relief and rehab work, 20 August 2018. Photo: The Times of India

Southern Army Commander Soni highlighted the mammoth logistical problem the force was facing while trying to rescue people and reach them relief.

"In the Southern Command, we are working on a relief plan. 27 boats were brought from Jodhpur, 15 from Bhopal. Teams have come from Bengaluru, communication and life jackets from Pune," he said, referring to the logistical nightmare in tackling the situation.

He said the Army wanted to ensure that before the next monsoon all such requirements were "centrally located" in the region to ensure everything was in place at the time of a calamity.

Kerala Water Authority  and Kerala State Electricity Board were trying to restore water and power supply in vast areas that are without power and tap water for the last several days. […]

The Centre has, meanwhile asked industrialists and business organisations to extend whatever help they can to Kerala, which is facing a "humanitarian crisis", Union minister Suresh Prabhu said in the national capital. […]

Incessant rains over the last few days have blurred the distinction between Kerala's backwaters and roads with sheets of water covering the landscape, but the state is facing shortage of potable water. Several fuel stations in the state are also reported to have run dry. [more]

Centre declares Kerala floods a 'calamity of severe nature'



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