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PM Modi resumes aerial survey of flooded Kochi after first aborted attempt

Thiruvananthapuram, August 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an interim relief of Rs 500 crore for Kerala after holding a high-level meeting with state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials on Saturday.

After the meeting, the Prime Minister conducted an aerial survey of the flooded area. Earlier he had to call off the survey as his chopper was called back minutes after it took off amid heavy rains.

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Torrential rains have battered God’s own country since August 8, leaving over 200 people dead in landslides and floods in what is the worst natural disaster to hit the state in a century. Out of the total casualties, 150 are said to have lost their lives in the last two days.

With roads cut off and public transport virtually nonexistent, there are now fears of starvation. “If help won’t reach people will die of starvation,” said Chenganur MLA Saji Cherian.

On Saturday, bodies were seen floating in flood waters – three in Pathnamthitta and four in Idukki.

An estimated four lakh people are now in relief camps, official said.

A massive relief and rescue operation involving the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, NDRF and volunteers continues to be underway. IAF rescue teams are also providing relief materials to stranded peole.

However, despite their best efforts, marooned people complained that they had to survive without food or potable water for many days. “The magnitude of the disaster is really great. We are finding it difficult to manage such a volume of affected people,” a relief official said in Kochi on Friday.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan termed the situation as “really serious”. Vijayan said that although two lakh people have been shifted to as many as 1,568 relief camps, many are still stranded. Air, railway and road services remained disrupted in many areas for over five days, and marooned people flooded government and media offices with desperate phone calls. Fresh landslides were also reported from Wayanad and Kannur districts.

“We are trying our best to rescue marooned people. Saving lives is our main concern now. Rescue operations are being taken up on a war footing with choppers and boats,” Vijayan said, adding that over 15,000 people were evacuated in the last two days. He dispelled reports that a few dams in the state were in the danger of bursting.

Source Hindustan Times



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