Kerala rains: 28 dead, 64,000 in 738 relief camps (Roundup)

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Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 9 (IANS) With incessant rain in Kerala, the death toll has reached 28 and over 64,000 people have shifted into 738 relief camps across the rain-battered state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Friday.

So far, 20 deaths caused by the floods have been reported across the state. Eight deaths had been reported on Thursday.

“These figures are till 3 p.m . The major message that we have to send out to the people living in worst affected districts is please listen to the authorities when they come with the message asking people to move to camps,” Vijayan said here addressing the media on Friday evening after chairing a review meeting on relief and rescue operations.

He said a red alert had been issued for Saturday in the worst affected districts of Ernakulam, Palakkad, Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur.

“Had the people in the outskirts of Nilambur in Malappuram listened, a big tragedy could have been averted. We are told that 19 families who were told to move out did so, and in the very same area, 40 people who failed to listen to the authorities are reported missing after it was hit by landslide.

“Three bodies have been recovered and two were saved. This should not happen, please listen to the authorities,” Vijayan said.

He also said that Wayanad district continues to be the worst affected, while the situation get tougher if the gates of the Banasura dam were to be opened.

“A team of ministers are in Wayanad overseeing the operations and by tomorrow (Saturday) morning all will get the required facilities at the relief camps that are being set up across Wayanad district,” he added.

Earlier on Friday, Vijayan assured people there was no need to panic at all as things are under control.

“If one compares with the floods that took place the same time last year, this time it’s not that serious. As a government, we have taken every precaution and there need be no panic, but just be alert. The need of the hour is people should cooperate with the authorities, if they are asked to move out from places which are likely to turn dangerous, they must comply,” he said.

“At Mepadi, an entire hill has been washed away. The inclement weather is preventing aerial operations, even as the Air Force team is ready and waiting to reach there. The Centre has pledged all possible help.

“The meteorological department has predicted more rains in the next 24 hours, especially in the hilly areas of the state. Also, North Kerala is going to be affected by winds. The prediction is that from tomorrow the intensity of the rains is going to come down, but on August 15th, it’s going to rain heavily,” Vijayan added.

On the presence of the forces which are engaged in relief and rescue operations, he said there are 13 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and three teams each of the engineering task force and the Army.

“Two more columns of the Army are arriving. With the Cochin airport closed till Sunday, efforts are on to see if the Cochin Naval Base airport can be opened (it was open during last year’s floods). The Centre is always in touch with us,” he said.

He also said that the 67th edition of the Nehru Boat Race, to be held on Saturday at Alappuzha, has been postponed.

–IANS

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