Massive cleanup begins as rains diminish in Kerala

Hugh Fox
August 21, 2018

With the sun finally out in the sky, Kerala is gearing up to pick up the pieces after torrential rains and resultant floods left the state devastated killing hundreds of people and leaving a trail of destruction. Landslides have also contributed to the death toll. However, people of the state rejected such propaganda with the contempt it deserved and they moved on with their relief work.

Many victims trapped by the heavy rains have already received support from people from all around the world, thanks to organisations who have rallied volunteers and donors to activate donation pick-up points in cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru.

The Indian government has classified the floods as a "calamity of severe nature", but are yet to name it a national disaster which would allow greater distribution of funds and relief.

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At least two trains carrying about 1.5 million liters (400,000 gallons) of water were moving to the flooded areas from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Indian railway official Milind Deouskar said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. The army said Sunday that 250 people had been evacuated from Pathanamthitta district, many of them sick after days in the pounding monsoon rain.

Flood-ravaged Kerala will get Rs 700 crore from the United Arab Emirates, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Tuesday. The United Nations' World Health Organisation (WHO) has sent a 13-member team to Kerala, while India's health ministry has said it has set up medical centres in numerous relief camps.

As a helicopter hovered overhead, doctors checked elderly men and women lying on wooden benches in an engineering college.

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Five companies of Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force and Rapid Action Forces were also deployed to carry out rescue and relief measures.

As the rain abated on Sunday morning, 60-year-old T P Johnny visited his home in Cheranelloor - a suburb of Kochi situated on the banks of the Periyar river - to see when he and his family could return. Wells, commonly used in Kerala, are contaminated and few places have electricity to pump water. Commercial flight operations from Kochi Airport commenced from August 20, a boost for rescue operations in the state. Rumours and fake messages were spread about dams going to burst and state set to face food shortage.

The Hindu harvest festival, due to take place on Saturday, has been cancelled amid uncertainty over when this disaster will finally begin to ease.

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Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress party, urged Modi not to discriminate between states controlled by his Bharatiya Janata Party and those such as Kerala, which it does not rule. The state had sought an immediate assistance of Rs 2,000 crore from the Centre.

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