New Delhi: Adding up to the death toll, floods across the rain-affected Kerala claimed 23 more lives on Saturday. Out of them, 15 were found floating on floodwaters amidst rescue and relief operations across the state.
Kerala has been facing issues like disruptions in power supply and communication links, shortage of food, potable water and medicines while scores of people remain stranded in the worst-hit areas.
Post his arrival in Kerala on Friday night, PM Modi held a high-level meeting with state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials on Saturday, following which he announced an interim relief of Rs 500 crore for the state. He also announced ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000
The state government, however, sought emergency relief of Rs 2,500 crore from the Centre, saying Kerala suffers losses of Rs 25,000 crores.
Following the meeting, the Prime minister conducted an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas including Kochi and Idukki. Earlier in the day, PM Modi had to delay the survey as his chopper was called back minutes after it took off amid heavy rains in Kochi.
Torrential rains have battered God’s own country since August 8, leaving over 200 people dead in the last 10 days in landslides and floods in what is the worst natural disaster to hit the state in a century.
Here are the major updates from the state:
- Chief minister Vijayan termed the situation as “really serious”. He said that although two lakh people have been shifted to as many as 1,568 relief camps, many are still stranded.
- Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday urged prime minister Modi to declare Kerala floods a national disaster as the “lives, livelihood and future of millions of our people is at stake.”
- With roads cut off and public transport virtually non-existent, there are now fears of starvation. “If help won’t reach people will die of starvation,” said Chenganur MLA Saji Cherian.
- 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 people. As per reports, four lakh people are now in relief camps.
- The weather department on Saturday held out hopes of respite, holding the intensity of rains has decreased and the situation will improve from Tuesday.
- The state has been offered financial aid from chief ministers of several states with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announcing that all MLAs and MPs of his Aam Aadmi Party would donate a month’s salary. Apart from him, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has announced Rs 5 crore. Their Bihar and Haryana counterparts Nitish Kumar and Manohar Lal Khattar offered an assistance of Rs 10 crores each. Medicines worth Rs 1 crore were sent from Tamil Nadu.
- Trapped persons made urgent appeals on social media for help, saying they cannot make contact with rescue services as power and communication lines are down. Families trapped in high rise flats, students stranded in hostels and devotees in churches used social media platforms to seek help and pass on information about their location using Google maps.