Authorities have moved around a million people into emergency camps in recent days as the death toll from monsoon floods jumped yesterday to at least 184.
Kerala, a tourist haven known for its beaches, hill resorts and backwaters, has been the worst hit region for the second consecutive year, forcing the closure of the Kochi international airport for three days last week.
“At least 76 people have died, 58 are missing and another 32 have received injuries,” Pramod Kumar, Kerala police spokesman, told AFP.
Around 288,000 people across the state’s worst affected districts including Wayanad, Malappuram and Kozhikode have been moved to relief camps.
Members of a local football club joined efforts by the military and police to rescue 300 families stranded in an inundated locality in Malappuram district, domestic news reports said.
Last year Kerala was hit by its worst floods in almost a century with around 450 people killed.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi yesterday appealed to the people to donate relief material for the flood victims of Kerala.
Gandhi, who is touring his flood-hit parliamentary constituency Wayand in Kerala, took to Facebook and wrote: “An appeal, my parliamentary constituency Wayanad, has been devastated by floods with thousands left homeless and shifted to relief camps.”
Gandhi arrived in Wayanad on Sunday and met the flood victims in several relief camps.
Appealing to the people to donate, the Congress leader said, “We are in urgent need of the following material — water bottles, sleeping mats, blankets, under garments (gents, ladies and children), dhotis, night gowns, children’s apparel, slippers, sanitary napkins, soaps, tooth brushes, tooth paste, soap powder, bleaching powder, chlorine, biscuits, rice, sugar, green gram, dal, black gram, coconut oil, coconut, vegetables, curry powders, bread, baby food.”
The maximum number of deaths — 18 — have been reported from Wayanad, an area spread over three districts — Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram.
Gandhi asked the people to send the relief material to the collection centres in Malappuram district.
He also shared the address and phone numbers of the senior district administration.
Earlier in the day, the Congress leader while meeting the flood victims assured them of all help to rebuild their lives.
“We are all with you in this hour of crisis and I call upon not just Congress workers, but all the people to work to ease the suffering of the people,” he said while addressing a relief camp at Thiruvampady.
“Today is Eid and though I know that the people are distressed, I take this opportunity to wish all of you Eid Mubarak. We will use the spirit of Eid to help the people who are suffering,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Kerala Police yesterday registered 19 cases related to fake campaigns on social media over relief work for floods that have ravaged the state.
State police chief Loknath Behra said the various cyber wings of the police have registered the cases and the probe has already begun.
“The cases have been registered for spreading false campaigns on the relief works and all such people would be arrested and proceeded against as per the law,” said Behra.
This swift action comes a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that those engaged in these acts are anti-social elements.
At least 42 people have also lost their lives in neighbouring Karnataka state, which has seen some of its worst flooding of recent years.
“We have evacuated over 580,000 people”, a senior Karnataka government official told AFP.
Many key highways and roads across the affected regions have been damaged or cut off by rising waters.
Local emergency personnel and troops from the army, navy and air force have been deployed for search, rescue and relief operations.
Media have also reported 66 deaths in Maharashtra and Gujarat, with tens of thousands of people shifted to relief camps.
More states including Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Andhra Pradesh have reported flooding since the past week.
In Maharashtra, after the 12-day rescue operations, the task of providing relief and rehabilitation has been launched in Sangli, Kolhapur and surrounding areas as the skies cleared.
The state and private groups have rushed in large quantities of medicines to prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases.
The supply of chlorine tablets to purify drinking water, DDT and bleaching powders for cleaning of homes and neighbourhood has been stepped up.
While six people were still missing, nearly 475,000 were shifted to 596 temporary camps after the one of the worst floods in recent times, Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaiskar said yesterday.
Power supply is a concern with 263,282 consumers and 143,047 farmers going without power as around 16,000 transformers were damaged or destroyed.
According to Mhaiskar, supply has been restored in stages to 136,303 consumers and 34,179 farmers and efforts are being made to revive power to the rest.
At present, 105 teams of the army, navy, air force, NDRF, SDRF, district, municipal and local bodies with 164 boats are engaged in rescue operation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said 761 villages in the two districts were badly hit.
Around 147 big and small roads, 66 bridges, besides interior and rural roads were still shut for traffic.
In a positive step, the Railways has waived freight charges for relief materials on way to flood-hit regions in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.
“No freight charges will be levied on relief material sent to the flood-affected Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra. We urge you to help us in this effort and send as much relief material as possible, which we will transport for free,” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said yesterday.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa yesterday announced Rs500,000 compensation for each family, which lost its house due to landslides and floods in 17 of the state’s 30 districts.
“Rs500,000 will be given to each family whose house has been damaged due to landslides and floods. Provisionally, Rs10,000 will be paid as advance relief to the affected families from tonight,” Yediyurappa told reporters at a relief centre at Belthangady.
The state government will also give Rs5,000 as monthly house rent allowance to the affected families till their damaged houses are repaired and new houses built soon.
With no let-up in moderate to heavy rainfall yesterday, normal life remained disrupted in the coastal, central and northwest regions due to flooding and over-flowing lakes and rivers, with schools and colleges shut, markets closed, houses crashed and roads damaged.
“I hope the situation in the flood-ravaged districts will start improving in the next couple of days, as rain water recedes and their levels dip in villages and towns,” said the chief minister after visiting Dakshin Kannada and Kodagu districts in the southern region.
To the east, Odisha witnessed heavy rainfall and special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi yesterday asked the district collectors to remain prepared for a possible flood situation.
“The concerned collectors are requested to keep the administrative machinery prepared to meet any possible situation that may arise in the event of intense rainfall,” Sethi said.
He advised to identify the areas vulnerable to flood and waterlogging in advance and field officials should remain prepared to evacuate people from vulnerable locations to safe shelters, if required.
He said advance arrangements may be made for providing adequate food, safe drinking water, lighting, health and sanitation facilities at all shelters and relief camps.