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Published On: Sun, Aug 19th, 2018

NDRF launches biggest-ever op; 58 teams deployed

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KOCHI/ NEW DELHI : The National Disaster Response Force has launched its biggest-ever relief and rescue operation in the country till date as the deadliest deluge in Kerala in close to a century has claimed 194 lives since August 8.
A total of 58 NDRF teams have been deputed to work in Kerala. This is the highest ever deployment of the force in a single state since its raising according to NDRF Chief Sanjay Kumar.

NDRF Director General Sanjay Kumar.Deluge in flood-stricken Kerala finally let up on Sunday, giving some respite for thousands of marooned families, while authorities feared an outbreak of disease among over 200,000 people crammed into relief camps.

Incessant rains since Aug. 8 have caused the state`s worst floods in a century, and at least 186 people have perished, many of them killed by landslides. The beaches and backwaters of Kerala are top destinations for domestic and international tourists, but far fewer visit during the monsoon season. kerala-19b
The India Meteorological Department forecast heavy rainfall only at one or two places of Kerala on Sunday and withdrew a red alert in several districts. Flood waters too began to recede from several places.
Using boats and helicopters, India`s military has led rescue efforts to reach people in communities cut off for days by the floods, with many trapped on rooftops and the upper floors of their homes, and in desperate need of food and potable water.

Rescue teams were focused on the town of Chengannur on the banks of the Pamba River, where some 5,000 people are feared to be trapped, officials said.
More than 200,000 families have taken refuge at relief camps set up across the state, an official at the Kerala State Disaster Management office said.Kerala`s chief minister had earlier said over 200,000 people had taken shelter in camps since the monsoon rains began three months ago.SANJAY-NDRF
Anil Vasudevan, who handles disaster management at the Kerala health department, said authorities had isolated three people with chickenpox in one of the relief camps in Aluva town, nearly 250 km (155 miles) from state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

He said the department was preparing to deal with a possible outbreak of water-borne and air-borne diseases in the camps, where an estimated two million people have taken shelter since the monsoon rains began three months ago.
Kerala, which usually receives high rainfall, has seen over 250 percent more rain than normal between Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, causing the state authorities to release water from 35 dangerously full dams, sending a surge into its main river.
As the rain abated on Sunday morning, one resident in Cheranelloor, a suburb of Kochi situated on the banks of the Periyar river, visited his home to see when he and his family could return.

“The entire house is covered with mud. It will take days to clean to make it liveable. All our household articles, including the TV and fridge, have been destroyed,” 60-year-old TP Johnny told Reuters.

Kochi`s airport is closed due to waterlogging, and Jet Airways has arranged additional flights from Thiruvananthapuram for passengers holding confirmed tickets from Kochi. India`s national carrier Air India will operate ATR flights from the naval airport in Kochi to Bangalore and Coimbatore, starting Monday.

Late on Saturday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that there was no shortage of food in the state as traders had stocked up ahead of a local festival.”The only problem is transporting it,” he told reporters. “The central government and public have cooperated well in this effort to fight this disaster.”
He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the state on Saturday, announced an assistance of 5 billion Indian rupees ($71 million) against his request for 20 billion. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates, where many Keralites work, has also offered assistance to the state.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has urged followers to help the state with “concrete support” and also prayed for the affected population. Earlier, Vijayan asked people not to send ‘erroneous information’ as it was ‘delaying rescue efforts’.
Terming the Kerala relief work one of world’s largest rescue operations, Union Minister KJ Alphons said on Sunday that they have armed forces, NDRF, paramilitary forces at work to help one million people in camps and feed them.
Media houses continue to be flooded with requests for rescue in affected areas. Shouldering the responsibility, News18 has launched a special initiative to help those in need.(With Agency Inputs).

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