Modi to visit flood-battered Kerala; rescue operations under way

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New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake an aerial survey of the flood-devastated parts of Kerala on Saturday to assess the Central government’s aid efforts and also the rescue operations.

Modi spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on the flood situation on Friday.

“Later this evening, I will be heading to Kerala to take stock of the unfortunate situation due to flooding,” Modi tweeted.

Modi is expected to land in Thiruvananthapuram by 9 p.m. and will be staying at the Raj Bhavan.

The death toll in rain-battered Kerala in 10 days touched 174 on Friday as a red alert continued in 12 of the 14 districts of the state, the Kerala government said in a statement.

The red alert in Kasargode and Thiruvananthapuram districts was withdrawn on Friday, it said.

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The intensity of rains, although has decreased in several districts since Friday morning, flood waters from big dams in Idukki district continued to be let out.

Since August 8, 2.23 lakh people are put up in 1,568 relief camps across the state, the statement added.

Cabinet Secretary P .K. Sinha on Friday chaired a meeting with the Chief Secretaries of Kerala and Tamil Nadu through video conference.

Sinha directed various agencies, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to provide the required assistance to Kerala.

He also ordered these organisations to provide boats, helicopters, life jackets, life buoys, raincoats, gumboots, inflatable tower lights among other things.

The Centre has so far mobilised deployment of 339 motorised boats, 2,800 life jackets, 1,400 life buoys, 27 light towers and 1,000 raincoats, said a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

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Over 1,00,000 food packets have been distributed and arrangements are being made to supply another 1,00,000 food packets, it said.

The Railways has provided 1,20,000 water bottles and will despatch additional 1,20,000 bottles, it added.

It is also running a special train carrying 2.9 lakh litres of drinking water that will reach Kayakulam on Saturday, the ministry said.

Further, 72 motor boats, 5,000 life jackets, 2,000 life buoys, 13 light towers and 1,000 raincoats will be deployed, the Home Ministry said.

The Indian Navy has deployed 51 boats along with diving teams, while 1,000 life jackets and 1,300 gumboots were rushed to Kerala and 1,600 food packets were airdropped on Friday.

In the past 48 hours, the Navy flew 16 sorties in rescue operations, the Ministry said.

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The Coast Guard, according to the Ministry, has deployed 30 boats along with rescue teams, 300 life jackets, seven life rafts and 144 life buoys.

The IAF has deployed 23 helicopters and 11 transport aircraft, while the Army pressed into service 10 columns, 10 Engineering Task Forces (ETFs), 60 boats and 100 life jackets and the NDRF has mobilised 43 rescue teams and 163 boats along with other equipment, it said.

The use of Naval airstrip at Kochi by civilian airlines has been offered to the Kerala Government as the civilian airport remained closed.

Kerala Government has been advised to explore the use of V-SAT communication links in areas where telephone connectivity has been disrupted.

–IANS

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