Kerala toll 370, over 7 lakh in camps

Kerala toll 370, over 7 lakh in camps
Rescuers ferrying children on a lifeboat in Kerala.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AUG 19 (IANS) | Publish Date: 8/19/2018 12:54:04 PM IST

As the rain fury finally abated on Sunday, 724,649 people remained in 5,645 camps in Kerala following “one of the worst ever floods” that has left about 370 dead and caused unprecedented destruction.

“Our prime concern was to save lives. It appears it has been met,” chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media. But even as Vijayan maintained that the last stage of rescue act was going on, various WhatsApp groups continued to be flooded with requests for help, especially from Alappuzha. On Sunday morning, the authorities withdrew the red alert issued in the last of the three districts: Idukki, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta.

Naturally, with fishermen, NCC, Navy and Air Force continuing to rescue the marooned, Sunday saw the maximum evacuation of people from Chengannur, Pandalam, Thiruvalla, several areas in Pathanamthitta district and in Aluva, Angamaly and Paravur in Ernakulam. The chief minister said 22,034 people had been rescued from flooded homes and buildings. The death toll began on May 29 when Kerala got the first of the monsoon rains. Every fisherman who took part in the rescue act would be given Rs 3,000 each, he said. Students who lost their educational materials and uniforms would get new replacements.

Health Minister K.K. Shailaja admitted that although the water level had fallen in many areas, medical facilities might not have reached certain regions due to the magnitude of the crisis. Congress president, Rahul Gandhi and CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the central assistance of Rs 500 crore was too little. Kerala government has estimated the loss at Rs 19,500 crore.

Disease outbreaks feared as thousands trapped by Kerala flood: Aid workers have said they fear outbreaks of disease as thousands of people remain stranded. An estimated 800,000 people have been relocated to 4,000 relief camps as waters continue to surge in Kerala.

“The scale of the calamity here is indeed very, very frightening,” Devendra Singh-Tak, a spokesperson for Save the Children, told Sky News. As the severity of the rainfall begins to decline, aid workers fear that stagnant water could prove a breeding ground for diseases like cholera and malaria, and have warned of a chicken pox outbreak.

They say some 10,000 people in remote villages could be cut off from medicine, food and water.

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