Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 17: The death toll in rain-battered Kerala touched 174 on Friday as a red alert continued in 12 districts, with the authorities continuing rescue operations after rains subsided and evacuated more survivors to relief camps.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Friday morning confirmed the death toll to be 164, but the figure was revised to 174 later.
He told the media that the situation arising out of unprecedented floods and subsequent havoc caused by turgid rivers and gushing waters in Kerala continues to be “grave”.
Since August 8 when the rains began pounding the southern state, around 2.40 lakh persons have been lodged in 1,568 relief camps across Kerala.
“The worst affected districts include Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur,” Vijayan said after a review meeting with state officials.
Hundreds of defence personnel, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, helped by more than 20 helicopters, mounted search and rescue operations. Fishermen along with their motorboats too joined the humanitarian efforts. More helicopters were pressed into service on Friday to fly sorties for rescue and relief.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sanctioned the extra choppers, as people marooned in Chengannur and Chalakudy could only be airlifted to safety.
Waters from the Periyar river and its tributaries kept many towns in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts submerged. The worst affected include Paravur, Kalady, Chalakudy, Perumbavoor and Muvatupuzha.
“We have no food. There are 150 persons waiting to be rescued,” rued a group of people who sent a video clip to TV channels from Chalakudy.
Thousands of people are still perched on high-rise buildings waiting to be rescued and taken to relief camps. Over 50,000 people are lodged in the Ernakulam and Thrissur camps alone.