Thiruvananthapuram: As a murderous monsoon savaged Kerala claiming 106 lives on a single day yesterday, the state plunged deeper into misery on Friday with hospitals facing shortage of oxygen and fuel stations running dry, officials said.
The deadliest deluge in close to a century has claimed 173 lives since August 8, and dealt a severe blow to the scenic state, wrecking its tourism industry, destroying standing crops in thousands of hectares and inflicting huge damage to infrastructure.
Over 80,000 persons, stranded in various places, were rescued today, of whom 71,000 were from one of the worst affected Aluva region of Ernakulam district.
Personnel of the three services, besides the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) resumed the gigantic task of evacuating people stranded on rooftops, highlands where hills came crashing down blocking roads and cutting them off from the rest of the world, and those marooned in villages that have turned into islands, according to PTI.
Many persons, including women, children and the elderly trapped in places inaccessible by boats were winched up by defence helicopters and shifted to safety.
TV channels telecast disturbing visuals of a woman in labour being pulled up with the help of a rope dropped down from a Navy chopper, swinging violently in the air. The woman, whose amniotic sac was ruptured, was shifted to a Navy hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy.
"Both the mother and the child are doing fine", officials said.
Desperate non-resident Keralites from Australia, the US and the UK were making fervent pleas to authorities through television channels seeking help for their dear ones. Soumya from Australia said her parents and their relatives were stranded in Aluva for the past two days.
Another said an elderly relative Mary Varghese was badly in need of an oxygen cylinder and her condition was worsening. In a WhatsApp video, a stranded woman with her 6- year-old child was seen pleading for help.
"We have no food or water. Please help us", she said.
Though there was some let up in rains at a few places, four districts of Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur remained in the throes of the monsoon fury.
Officials said many private hospitals in Ernakulam district are running out of oxygen, forcing the authorities to shift patients to nearbyfacilities. Many had to be evacuated after flood water entered hospitals.
Quite a few petrol pumps, even in places like the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, which has escaped the monsoon fury to some extent, have run dry. Long queues of motorists were seen at several fuel stations in Thiruvananthapuram district. Authorities have directed each of these fuel bunks to keep in reserve 3,000 litres of diesel and 1,000 litres of petrol at all times for relief operations.
Southern Naval Command (SNC) had deployed a total of 58 rescue and diving teams with Gemini boats in multiple locations. About 18 more teams were sent to various locations since early morning on Friday. The Indian Navy has sent Fleet replenishment tanker INS Deepak from Mumbai to Kochi with 8 lakh litres of drinking water. INS Deepak is scheduled to reach Kochi on August 19.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has announced Rs 25 crore as immediate assistance towards Kerala Floods. The chief minister has instructed Chief Secretary SK Joshi to handover the amount to Kerala government.
The CM has also instructed the officials concerned, that in view of water getting polluted due to floods, Reverse Osmosis water purifiers worth Rs 2.5 crores should also be dispatched to Kerala.
The Delhi government is planning to make contribution of Rs 10 crore to the flood-hit Kerala. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that he has spoken to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and appealed "everyone to donate generously for our brothers and sisters in Kerala".
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