Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the flood situation in Kerala with state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, union minister KJ Alphons and other officials and announced an immediate relief of Rs500 crore for the marooned state.
The PM’s scheduled aerial survey of the flood-affected areas of the state, which had to be called off initially due to bad weather, was resumed later as the weather cleared.
PM Modi had reached the state capital Thiruvananthapuram on Friday evening to take stock of the flood situation.
The floods, the worst in a century for the state, has left at least 324 dead and over 3 lakh people displaced.
Help started pouring in from within and outside the country, with the United Aram Emirates (UAE) announcing a committee to help flood-hit areas of the state, a report said.
“The people of Kerala have always been and are still part of our success story in the UAE. We have a special responsibility to help and support those affected, especially during this holy and blessed days,” UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted
Meanwhile, relief and rescue agencies mounted what they said was their toughest and most comprehensive operation in Kerala, with more men, material and equipment coming in on Friday.
But despite more men and machines, thousands are still stranded without food, water or medicine, many in misery and pitiable conditions and huddled together over roofs / terraces and exposed to the elements.
Among them are infants, pregnant women, the aged and sick, with requests of help pouring in over social media and through media houses even as mobile phones ran out of charge.
The worst-affected area are in Central Kerala – Chalakkudi in Thrissur district, Aluva and Ernakulam in Ernakulam district, Chengannur in Alappuzha district Aaranmula in Pathanamthitta district and Idukki, the origin of all misery.
Most roads in the state, including national highways and state highways are blocked for traffic due to landslides and flood waters.
The gravity of the flood situation can be measured by the fact that torrential rains have forced authorities to open 80 dams that left at least 324 dead and sent 223,139 people to about 1500+ relief camps.
Till now, 42 Navy, 16 Army, 28 Coast Guard and 39 National Disaster Relief Force teams were engaged in rescue operations. Another 14 NDRF teams are expected to reach shortly. The military has pushed in more than 200 boats. Another four aircraft and three Coast Guard ships have also been brought in.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has announced Rs25 crore immediate financial help to the rain-hit state. He has also asked for water purifying machines worth Rs2.5 crore to be sent to Kerala.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had a telephonic conversation with CM Vijayan.
Flood water from the Periyar River and its tributaries has submerged many towns in Ernakulam and Thrissur. An emergency situation has developed in Alapuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Pathanamthitta districts, where roads have become completely submerged. Thousands of people are still perched on trees and rooftops, waiting to be rescued.
Telecom operators had announced free calls and data, extension in bill payment due dates and other relief measures for subscribers in Kerala. "To help you stay in touch with your loved ones and remain connected, we are extending a complimentary 7 days unlimited voice & data pack to you," Jio said in a message sent to customers.