India – Over 300 Dead in Kerala Floods Described as Worst in 100 Years

As many as 324 people have lost their lives and over 300,000 have been displaced in Kerala, south west India. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state is facing its worst flood in 100 years.

Disaster management authorities in India reported that the total area flooded in the state increased from 28, 737 hectares on 14 August to 50,119 hectares on 17 August. As of 17 August 24,948 hectares were flooded in Alappuzha and 14,006 in Kottayam districts. The Chief Minister said that 80 dams have been opened across the state.

Map showing the worst hit areas of Kerala flooding as of 17 August 2018. Flood water is in light blue. Image: NRSC (2018) – Flood Inundated areas in parts of Kerala State (as on 17 August 2018 1830 Hrs )” dated 17.08.2018 DSC/NDEM Map no : 2018/07, NRSC/ISRO, Hyderabad

Thousands of personnel of Indian Navy, Air Force, Army, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) are engaged in the rescue, relief and evacuation operations, with the support of dozens of helicopters, aircraft and motorboats. A total of 82,442 rescues were made on 17 August.

As of 17 August, 314,391 people from 70,085 families were staying in 2,094 relief camps across the state.

Prime Minister’s Visit

During a visit to the affected areas on 18 August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief and sorrow on the unfortunate deaths and damage. He visited Kerala to review the situation and make aerial assessments of the damages.

Photo: Office of the Prime Minister, India
Photo: Office of the Prime Minister, India
Photo: Office of the Prime Minister, India
Photo: Office of the Prime Minister, India

Signs of Floods Receding

By 19 August the heavy rain was easing and flood waters slowly receding in some areas.

During the review meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) 19 August, the Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha said that focus should now be on provision of emergency supplies of food, water, medicines and restoration of essential services such as power, fuel, telecom and transport links as flood water recedes.

There is a fear of increased disease in the wake of the flooding and medical relief camps have been set up to help flood victims.

Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J P Nadda, said on 19 August, “3,757 medical relief camps have been set up. As requested by the State Government, 90 types of medicines, in the requested quantity are being sent to the State. The first tranche of medicines shall reach tomorrow. The Health Ministry is also coordinating with other States which have committed to providing medicines so as to augment supplies.”

It is likely the death toll will increase as the flood waters receded and more bodies are found.

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