Hundreds have died and several lakhs have been rendered homeless in flood-hit Kerala. Relief teams have been working tirelessly to rescue people and to ensure food, water and medicines reach each and every person in the state. Help has been pouring in from all over the world, but the state "doesn't need food and clothes", according to Union minister KJ Alphons. What the state desperately needs is technical assistance to rebuild and recreate, he said.
Over 300 people have died in the southern state this monsoon. The losses have been estimated at over Rs 20,000 crore. Heavy rainfall over the last two weeks has been the worst since the unforgettable flood of 1924 which lasted about three weeks and caused huge damage to life and property.
"The prime minister visited Kerala and took stock of the situation. He has promised assistance and whatever it takes to rebuild the state. He announced an immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore. Before that Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Kiren Rijiju had sanctioned Rs 100 crore and Rs 80 crore, respectively. So money isn't a problem," the minister said.
Close to a million people are staying in relief camps. All the supplies are being provided by district collectors. "We don't necessarily need food and clothes. Food is being made available by the government of India in plenty," he said.
No outbreak of diseases has been reported in the state so far, but the centre has set up around 3,700 medical camps across Kerala, the Health Ministry said.
"Things are running very well and all central forces are providing amazing services. Fishermen have turned out to be the biggest heroes. We thank the people of India and other countries for sending help and showing compassion, but we need technical help when the water level goes down. There is no electricity or mobile connectivity. The homes are gone so we need thousands of electricians, carpenters and plumbers to rush to Kerala. The biggest challenge right now is to rebuild. We need people with technical skills to put life back on track," Mr Alphons said.
Kerala has seen over 250 per cent more rain than normal between August 8 and August 15, causing the state authorities to release water from 35 dangerously full dams.
Rescue operations are underway in Chengannur on the banks of the Pamba River, where at least a thousand people are still stranded in five villages.
There is no shortage of food in the state as traders had stocked up ahead of a local festival, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said on Saturday. "The only problem is transporting it. The central government and public have cooperated well in this effort to fight this disaster," he said.
The weather officials say that heavy rain is likely to subside in the coastal state. Commercial flight operations in Kochi also resumed today after the Navy activated its airstrips to accommodate small passenger aircraft. The first flight -- an Alliance Air ATR plane -- landed early this morning at the INS Garuda naval air station. The Kochi airport will remain closed till August 26.
(Kerala has to rebuild itself after the worst floods in over a century. Hundreds have died and lakhs are homeless. Here is how you can help.)