Thiruvananthapuram: A total of 42 people lost their lives in the devastating landslides and flash floods in the south-central districts of the state from October 12 to 19, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday.
Nineteen people (12 in Kottayam and 7 in Idukki) lost their lives in landslides while at least six others are yet to be traced. 3,851 families are living in 304 rehabilitation camps operational in the state.
Expressing profound grief over the rain-related calamities, Vijayan said the tragedy was unbearable not only for the victims' family members but also for the entire state.
The CM also assured that adequate compensation would be provided to the affected families.
The search and rescue operations were extremely challenging given the harsh weather conditions and difficult terrain.
The CM also commended the efforts of the rescue teams. "Most bodies were recovered within 24 hours of the disaster," he said.
Two NDRF teams, two teams of the Indian Army, two Air Force choppers, one Navy chopper and an Engineering Task Force participated in the rescue operations. The state deployed central forces besides the state's police force in all districts when the need arose.
Fire and Rescue Department will be roped in to remove the mud silt at homes and roads.
'Observe Covid protocol at relief camps'
The Chief Minister warned that Covid-19 protocol and social distancing must be observed at all costs in relief camps. Vaccinated volunteers must be enlisted by authorities for relief work.
Permission has been granted to conduct antigen tests in relief camps.
Efforts will be taken to provide vaccine shots to people living in relief camps, the Chief Minister added.
Orange Alert in 3 districts Thursday
A low pressure formation on southern Tamil Nadu coast will bring rainfall to Kerala on October 21, the CM said.
Influenced by the formation Kerala will witness heavy rainfall accompanied by thuderstorm and lightning from October 20 to 24. The state will also witness heavy rainfall at isolated places on Thursday, October 21.
An Orange alert has been issued to Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Idukki districts on Thursday.
According to the radar images gathered by the IMD from its Kochi radar, Kannur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, and mountainous terrain in Thrissur may also witness heavy rainfall. Though only orange and yellow alerts have been issued hilly regions and disaster prone areas must excercise vigil.
Provide compensation to farmers by Nov 10
Minister for Agriculture, P Prasad has instructed the officials concerned to complete the claim proceedings for providing compensation for farmers whose crops were damaged in heavy rains and landslides before November 10.
A high-level meeting convened by the minister also decided to give compensations in similar cases within a month.
Kerala had been receiving excessive rains since October 11 and there was a slight dip in its intensity on October 18 and 19.
The twin low-pressure areas, formed in the south-eastern Bay of Bengal and off the coast of Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea from October 13-17, had caused heavy rains in several parts of the state.