Kerala rain: govt. marshals resources for flood rescue

Given the severe weather warning, the government has sought more units of the National Disaster Response Force from neighbouring States

The Kerala government on Friday appeared to marshal maximum resources as the flood situation in the State threatened to worsen in the next 48 hours.Given the severe weather warning, the government has sought more units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from neighbouring States. A senior police official said NDRF units in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu were en route to Kerala.At the request of the State government, the Union Ministry of Defence has put the Defence Security Corps in Kannur and the units at the Military Station, Pangode, Thiruvananthapuram, on alert.A State police official said some units currently posted in Pangode, including the Madras Regiment and the Garwhal Rifles, were trained in amphibious operations.They had a sufficient number of inflatable boats, paddles, life jackets, rope, tackles and gangways for flood rescue. Both units had operated in Kerala during the floods in 2018 and 2019 alongside the State police.IAF help soughtThe government had also requested the help of the Indian Air Force to fly relief and rescue missions over Idukki. However, the IAF has told the government that squally weather dissuaded helicopters from sortieing into the hilly area for now.Once, the weather clears, IAF helicopters were likely to fly reconnaissance missions to identify landing spots and drop zones.Voluntary forceMeanwhile, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said it had rushed a voluntary force of 50 rescue workers to Idukki to bolster emergency responders in landslip ravaged Rajamala in Idukki district. The Fire and Rescue Department had trained the persons as the second line of support in the event of disasters. The government has also rushed battery packs, generators and inflatable light towers to the disaster-hit locality where emergency workers were sifting through the mud for trapped persons.59 reported missing Quoting local officials, Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan told reporters here that at least 59 persons were reported missing. After a meeting via videoconference with revenue, police and disaster management officials, he said the government was assessing the scale of the tragedy in Rajamala, and it could be substantial. The government has asked District Collectors to immediately move persons living in localities vulnerable to landslips in the hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad to safer areas. Officials said communication with the disaster zone in Idukki remained a problem. Efforts were on to extend wireless communication to the affected locality and also salvage mobile phone connectivity lost mainly due to power outage and rainstorm damaged towers. The police were in touch with coastal station houses and neighbourhood watch committees to mobilise fishers for flood rescue work if necessary. They have commandeered private lorries to move outboard engine fitted fishing boats from select fish landing centres and harbours to inundated localities in the event of a crisis. Police Control Rooms have collected the contact numbers of private ambulance operators and drivers and earthmover owners to draft their services in the event of a mass emergency. The police have also formulated a traffic management plan for the rapid movement of emergency services and ambulances. State Police Chief Loknath Behera was coordinating the preparedness operation. The CMO has also asked the Food and Civil Service Department to ready food kits, water and dry rations for relief camps. The Health Department has despatched special medical teams to Idukki.

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