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By Prarthana Mitra
Every year, God’s own country turns into a watery hell during the Indian monsoons. Kerala, a state which ordinarily receives the most rainfall this time of the year, recently surpassed all records with one of the most severe floods to have ever hit the state. The meteorological department and the state government are on high alert as the flood span beyond control over the last fortnight.
In the period between June 1 to August 15 this year, Kerala has received 2086.8 mm of rainfall, causing the heaviest floods since 1924. With an excess rainfall of 30% in the last two months, there is still no end in sight to the torrential rain. Besides densely populated districts like Ernakulam, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki district which has major dams has received 70% excess rainfall this year.
Kerala is in great pain. I spoke to PM and requested him to massively increase deployment of the Army & Navy. I also said that it is critical that he gives the state special financial assistance as this is a tragedy without parallel in Kerala’s history. #IndiaStandsWithKerala
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 16, 2018
Other rain-battered states to bear the brunt of the seasonal monsoons are on the eastern and north-eastern fringe of the country. Assam and Tripura amongst the regions experiencing a heavy flood situation.
Latest facts and figures from Kerala
The situation has escalated to devastating proportions, with several districts seeing massive landslides and scores of casualties already. The death toll at the end of Thursday stood at 86, owing mostly to landslips. Thousands have been rescued and rehabilitated to relief camps in Thiruvananthapuram, where 1330 families have been housed in 63 camps so far. Although shutters of 35 of the 39 dams have been opened to release water, fourteen districts continue to be under red alert.
More than 25 trains were cancelled or rescheduled in Kerala on Thursday, said the Southern Railway. Kochi metro and airport is supposed to be closed till August 26, as pre-emptive measures against the unprecedented floods. With the rain showing no signs of cessation, evacuation is underway in full swing.
According to latest news reports, students are stranded on campuses, tourists trapped in the hinterland and examinations and Onam celebrations are in disarray. The centre has directed the Defence Ministry to step up relief operations across the state and on Thursday 35 more NDRF teams comprising nearly 1,000 personnel were deployed to shore up rescue missions in the rain-battered state. Jio, BSNL and Airtel have announced free services for customers in Kerala. LSG minister AC Moitheen has directed all local body offices to render assistance and function 24 hours to deal with the disaster.
You can contribute to the relief efforts by donating to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF):
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.