'Many More Will Die if Help is Not Sent Soon': Chengannur MLA Breaks Down as Flood Situation Worsens
MLA Saji Cheriyan claimed that 50 people were 'lying dead in his area' and the numbers would rise if rescue operations did not begin soon.
An aerial view shows partially submerged houses in Kerala. (Reuters)
New Delhi: The floods in Kerala, the worst in a century, have claimed 324 lives and displaced over three lakh people, according to official figures. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday announced that the situation was grim in Chalakudy and Chengannur due to strong flow of water and rescue operations would begin in the area from Saturday.
“From tomorrow (Saturday), more army boats and helicopters will be used in these areas. Fifteen big army boats will reach Chalakudy on Saturday, five boats will be in Kalady, 15 in Chengannur and 10 in Thiruvalla. Rescue efforts in these areas will begin again from 6am on Saturday,” said Vijayan.
However, several netizens and local MLA Saji Cheriyan were of the opinion that Saturday would be too late for rescue operations in the Chengannur area of Alappuzha district.
Making a desperate plea for help, Cheriyan reportedly broke down on television as he claimed that at least 50 people were lying dead in his area and many more could perish if help was not sent on an urgent basis. He said they were trying to rescue people with the help of "10-15 boats of poor fishermen". The MLA added that the gushing waters were making recovery of bodies impossible and the only way to save them was to airlift them from the flooded area, The News Minute reported.
According to local reports, several places in Chengannur and Kuttanad taluks have been isolated after flash floods inundated roads and an unknown number of people are stranded in their homes. The water rose to dangerous levels in Chengannur after the shutters of Kakki, Anathodu and Kochu Pampa reservoirs along with part of the Sabarigiri hydroelectric project in Pathanamthitta district were opened following excessive rainfall.
Chengannur has been one of the worst-affected areas and hundreds of distress messages scattered on social media indicate that not much help has reached people. Several people took to social media to share their plight and seek help. In a viral video from Chengannur, a man was seen stranded inside his house, neck deep in water, and asking the authorities to rescue him as soon as possible.
Another video showed children stranded on the balcony of their house.
@CMOKerala I would like to bring your notice that one of my relations in Kerala chengannur need Immediate recuse, Heavy water flood out side the home & Water levels are increasing. The coordinates of the loc. as stated below. E674547 & N1031056. Waiting upstairs someone to help pic.twitter.com/m84AcedY3o
— Raja Pandian (@rajapandian2549) 16 August 2018
Officials said efforts were on to rescue people through boats and helicopters. Rescue teams asked those stranded to wave a red or white flag so that they could be evacuated by the choppers. District collector S Suhas asked people living closer to river bodies to move to safer places. He also said help had been sought from the Indian Navy, National Disaster Response Force (NRDF) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to reach the stranded people.
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