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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

Kerala flood toll rises to 106, search for missing continues

The death toll in flood-battered Kerala climbed to 106 on Thursday as the rains began to let up and rescue teams stepped up the search for 36 people who went missing after landslides in Wayanad and Malappuram districts.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2019 22:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Scenes from worst-affected Kavalapara in Malappuram district of Kerala.
Scenes from worst-affected Kavalapara in Malappuram district of Kerala. (HT photo)
         

The death toll in flood-battered Kerala climbed to 106 on Thursday as the rains began to let up and rescue teams stepped up the search for 36 people who went missing after landslides in Wayanad and Malappuram districts.

Over the past week, heavy rain has left a trail of death and destruction in the southern state, especially the northern parts. Weathermen held out some hope on Thursday, saying the intensity of the rains would weaken considerably from Friday.

In Kavalappara in Malappuram district, three more bodies were recovered from the debris, slush and mud, in addition to the 30 retrieved over the last five days. In Wayanad’s Puthumala, authorities are taking the help of experts to locate bodies. The highest toll has been reported from Malappuram (42), followed by Kozhikode (17) and Wayanad (14).

Also read | Kerala flood aftershocks: Unusual soil piping phenomenon adds to misery

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in his Independence Day speech that the relief efforts exemplified secularism. He lauded a mosque in Kavalappara that threw open its doors to allow doctors to do autopsies on landslide victims. “Kerala is the bedrock of secularism. Incidents like this epitomise this belief,” he said.

At least 84 landslides have been reported so far, causing as many as 80 of the 106 deaths. Experts said hilly areas turn porous and break after incessant rains, forcefully pushing rock, mud and debris down slopes with little or no warning. At times, a deafening sound accompanied the landslips but often there were no hints. But the force was so great that rubble and slush travelled for miles together, entirely changing the landscape.

With the rains beginning to subside, Kerala health officials have fanned out to flood-hit areas to prevent epidemics. State health minister K K Shailaja said the department was well equipped this year to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

“We have enough stock of doxycycline tablets to check the outbreak of leptospirosis (rat fever). In the worst-hit areas, we have opened doxycycline corners,” she said.

Also read | Rahul writes to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das over crop loans

First Published: Aug 15, 2019 21:55 IST

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