Thousands cry out for help in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 16 (IANS) Thousands of flood-affected people in Kerala — mostly in Pathanamthitta and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur — have been stranded as rescuers battle heavy rains to reach out to them even as the death toll in the unprecedented floods rose to 88 on Thursday.

Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in the worst-hit southern district of Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift the marooned families have failed.

“My 90-year-old mother-in-law, sister-in-law who is a cancer patient, and other relatives are living in a precarious condition as water is rising not just outside their home near Thiruvalla but inside, too,” a relative told IANS.

“When we spoke to the authorities there, they said they are helpless as boats are not available,” he said.

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CPI-M legislator from Chengannur Saji Cherian said: “Hundreds of people are eagerly waiting to be evacuated and the only way out is airlifting. Unless things move fast, this could turn out to be very serious.”

TV channels in the state are showing live pictures of people crying for help.

“We are standing on the terrace of our two-storied building near Chengannur and we are being told since last evening that we will be rescued soon. If help does not reach us in an hour’s time, we may not be alive, as water level is rising menacingly” is how a family reacted on a TV channel on Thursday.

Similar scenes are being shown from Aluva and Chalakudy in central Kerala, after the dam waters from the Idukki district reached the Periyar river and its tributaries.

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Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. “Shortage of boats is the biggest problem,” said Nair.

The National Highway from Ernakulam to Thrissur is also choked as water has now flooded the main roads in many areas.

“We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there,” said an anxious relative of the bride.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said with time running out, the need of the hour is larger deployment of Army rescuers.

–IANS

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