THODUPUZHA: A car stuck in mud waters is pictured after flash floods caused by heavy rains at Thodupuzha in India’s Kerala state on October 16, 2021. – AFP

TRIVANDRUM: The toll in floods in India’s southern state of Kerala mounted to 26 yesterday as the state witnessed torrential rainfall from Friday onwards. Of the 26 deaths, 13 were reported from Kottayam district, nine from Idukki district and four from Alappuzha district. The National Disaster Rescue Force (NDRF) and defense forces have been pressed into rescue and relief operations in the state where heavy rains since Friday triggered landslides and floods.

Among the bodies recovered were those of three children, aged eight, seven and four, who were found holding on to each other, according to officials who visited the site. The officials said rescue operators yesterday morning recovered five more bodies from Koottickal in Kottayam district. The bodies have not been identified yet.

The Madras Regiment from Pangode military station commenced the rescue operation at Kavali village, 4 km away from Koottickal. The rescue team consisted of about 40 personnel. Defense PRO said a navy helicopter with relief materials was on its way from INS Garuda towards rain-affected areas in the state. Two Mi-17 helicopters are on standby at the Air Force Station in Shangumugham, ready for deployment in rescue efforts.

One column of army personnel from DSC centre in Kannur, with engineering and medical teams, arrived at Wayanad for rescue ops yesterday, the defense PRO added. An Engineering task force from Bengaluru arrived in Mundakayam and Koottickal. So far, three columns have been deployed by the Army. During the operation, army personnel recovered a huge quantity of gold and other expensive accessories. These materials have been handed over to the civil administration.

India’s Home Minister Amit Shah said yesterday the government was monitoring the situation in Kerala and has already deployed NDRF teams to aid rescue ops in the rain-ravaged parts of the state. “We are continuously monitoring the situation in parts of Kerala in the wake of heavy rainfall and flooding. The central government will provide all possible support to help people in need. NDRF teams have already been sent to assist the rescue operations. Praying for everyone’s safety,” Shah tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to say he had spoken to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan about the flood situation. In a Facebook post, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said relief camps have been opened in the disaster-struck regions. He directed the authorities concerned to ensure that the camps are functioning adhering to COVID-19 health protocols. – AFP