Kerala rescue efforts in last stage, focus now on rehabilitation
Officials said there was no dearth of food and essential supplies as the relief material from across the country had begun pouring in. They admitted co-ordination remained a problem given the sheer magnitude of the disaster.india Updated: Aug 21, 2018 12:20 IST
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday said the week-long rescue operation in the state was about to be completed as the rain abated. He called the rebuilding of the damaged infrastructure and rehabilitation of the displaced people as the top priority.
Kerala is facing its worst natural disaster in around a century. As many as 223 people have been killed while over nine lakh were sheltered in relief camps in the state as the biggest rescue operation in the country continued.
Helicopters continued circling over the worst-hit while the army and navy vessels rowed in swirling waters to rescue the marooned people. The state administration and volunteers, too, carried out the rescue and relief operations.
Officials said there was no dearth of food and essential supplies as the relief material from across the country had begun pouring in. They admitted co-ordination remained a problem given the sheer magnitude of the disaster. “It was a deluge and we need help from all quarters,” said Vijayan.
There were long queues outside relief camps . At many places in Chengannur and Kuttanad in central Kerala desperate people were seen pleading with soldiers not to leave the affected areas once relief operations are over. They want the army, navy, air force presence while they rebuild their lives. “They made the difference. Their prolonged stay will help us immensely,” said Raghunatha Panickker, a trader in Alappuzha.
In Alappuzha district’s Chengannur, many were still feared trapped in the interior areas. Officials said efforts were on to locate and save them.
Police were given special powers to arrest those refusing to leave their submerged houses amid reports that many had stayed put. “We will save all trapped by (Monday) evening. It seems the worst is over,” said Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian.
The challenges remained. There has been a total collapse of power supply and communication networks while essential supplies and medicines were in short supply in many places.
Bloated carcasses surfaced in many areas as the water levels began to recede. Guidelines were issued to officials to fan out amid warnings that most water bodies were contaminated. “We have given directions to local bodies to take up a cleaning drive on a war-footing. Health officials are out on a mass contact programme,” said health minister P K Shailaja.
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First Published: Aug 20, 2018 23:11 IST