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Kerala floods: Why death toll could go up despite rescue efforts

Written by Arun Janardhanan
| Chennai |

Updated: August 17, 2018 8:23:49 am

kerala rains, kerala rains live updates, kerala floods People watching the swollen Chengal canal.

The death toll in the Kerala deluge is likely to go up as hundreds of people stranded in flooded areas, especially in and around Aluva and Pathanamthitta-Chengannur areas, were unable to get help in the last 24 hours. While multiple sources on the ground reports a slight reduction in the water level in Ranni and Pathanamthitta areas, many two-storey houses were fully submerged in water in and around Aluva, a town hardly 30 kms north of Kochi, on Friday morning.

Besides the boats of central forces, dozens of fishermen boats that could carry more number of people are now being brought to Aluva and Chalakkudi areas where hundreds of houses along the banks of Periyar, especially those structures built on paddy fields and low-lying areas, are fully submerged in water.

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Many rescue team members reported that they were unable to rescue people even after they had reached near their houses due to huge compound walls and heavy inflow of water. “Many stranded victims were those who chose to stay back at home to take care of old people or patients at home.”

Two families, a total of nine people, are still standing on the terrace with knee-deep water after their two storey house was fully submerged at Gandhipuram near Aluva. A source coordinating the rescue operation said that they will be drowned if an Air Force chopper’s scheduled rescue operation in the morning fails. “Water level is steadily increasing and their contact is also lost. We have spoken to another family in the neighbourhood and made sure that they are still waiting for help on the terrace,” said a rescue coordinator.

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While dozens of people are feared dead in the last 24 hours, Kadungalloor, Paravur, Kalady and Perumbavur areas are the worst affected areas as per reports on Friday morning. The inadequate number of rescue boats and manpower had made the rescue efforts challenging. There were no rescue operations last night as the central forces couldn’t reach the interiors in the dark. Several hospitals and even flooded relief centres too report deaths of people who were already fragile or sick. The number of deaths, however, has to be announced officially. One officially verified information is that of five deaths reported at a church near Kadungallur where at least three people remain critical.

“Our facilities are inadequate and the impact is huge. Hundreds and hundreds of people are stranded, many on the verge of drowning. In the last 12 hours, we have been receiving a call every 10 minutes seeking immediate rescue in Ernakulam district alone when it was impossible for boats or choppers to launch an operation in the night,” said a source in disaster management cell at Ernakulam at 7am.

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