Kerala floods: Nirmala Sitharaman ensured 'every assistance' from Centre; armed forces rescued over 6,000 people

With Kerala facing the deadliest deluge in close to a century that claimed 324 lives since 8 August, and displaced over 2.2 lakh people, the NDRF and the armed forces played a crucial role in carrying out rescue operations. According to multiple statements released by the defence ministry, the Indian Navy and the Indian Army jointly saved 6,600 people since they launched Operation Madad (navy) and Operation Sahyog (army) over a week ago.

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is to be lauded for her quick response in providing assistance to the rain-battered state.

On Thursday, when the unprecedented monsoon claimed 106 lives on a single day, Sitharaman promised "every assistance" to rain-battered Kerala. In a series of tweets, she assured the Kerala government that every help will be provided.

 Kerala floods: Nirmala Sitharaman ensured every assistance from Centre; armed forces rescued over 6,000 people

The Indian Armed Forces conduct rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala. Twitter@adgpi

"Have directed Indian Air Force for airlifting people stranded on rooftops," Sitharaman tweeted. The defence minister said that she spoke with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who requested more boats, and life jackets.

"Have instructed Defence Secretary to respond immediately. Awaiting the list from Chief Secretary, Kerala. There shall be no delay from our side. Additional IAF helicopters will be deployed," the defence minister had said.

The defence minister stood by her promise as the Indian Armed Forces swung into action, at a war-footing level, according to the Defence Ministry, to rescue and provide relief items to the thousands of people stranded across the state along with the NDRF.

On Friday, as the situation worsened, and Vijayan sought more help, Sitharaman said that additional motorboats were being hired by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard to enhance search and rescue operations in the state.

She also said that more helicopters were being sent by the Air Force to all the districts. Sitharaman sanctioned the extra choppers as people marooned in Chengannur and Chalakudy could only be airlifted to safety.

She also tweeted the complete deployment data chart put in force for the Kerala floods 2018 rescue mission since 9 August.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that 40,000 policemen, 3,200 firefighters, 18 teams of the army, 28 of Coast Guard, 39 of NDRF and 46 of Navy were engaged in rescue operations.

Operation Madad

As part of the Indian Navy’s 'Operation Madad' to provide rescue teams on-ground in Kerala, the Southern Naval Command at Kochi has rescued a large amount of people stranded in the flood-affected areas. Operation Madad was launched on 9 August, a day after the rain intensified in the state, leading to the worst floods Kerala has seen in almost a century.

The operation was launched to assist the state administration and undertake disaster relief operations due to unprecedented flooding in many parts of Kerala following incessant rainfall and release of excess water from Idukki and other dams.

On Friday, the the 58 rescue teams of the Indian Navy deployed at multiple locations, helped saved 500 people, according to IANS, while more than 3,000 people have been rescued since floods hit Kerala on 8 August.  According to officials, it is unprecedented in the history of rescue operations by the Navy.

Efforts continued to bring the flood-affected people to safety and also provide them essential supplies such as food and water, the spokesperson said. The Southern Naval Command on Friday sent 18 more teams to various locations to augment the rescue effort. The spokesperson said 19 teams of rescuers came from the Eastern Naval Command and Western Naval Command.

Naval helicopters have also been deployed for ferrying divers, power tools, axes and relief material to the flooded areas.

Operation Sahyog

The Army pushed its personnel and machinery into disaster relief and rescue operations in various districts after incessant rain and landslides hit multiple parts of Kerala. An army spokesperson said that Karnataka and Kerala Sub area Headquartered at Bengaluru was controlling the 'Operation Sahyog' in Kerala.

Engaged in rescue and relief operations in flood-hit Kerala, the Indian Army has been able to rescue 3,627 persons till date, including 22 foreign nationals, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday. With an over 1,000 persons-strong rescue team, the Army is engaged in alleviating the situation in flood-battered Kerala since 9 August, when it was hit by torrential rains that still continue.

"Thirteen temporary bridges were constructed to reconnect 38 remote areas and a total of 3,627 persons have been rescued till date, including 22 foreign nationals. Relief materials have been sent to 19 villages with medical aid being provided to approximately 500 civilians. In addition, 3,000 pre-cooked meals and 300 life jackets have been handed over to the civil administration on Friday," the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

The Army is engaged in the relief efforts on a "war footing" with the deployment of 10 flood relief columns, each having an approximate strength of 65 personnel in 10 districts, the statement added.

When Cyclone Ockhi hit Kerala in 2017, Sitharaman had ensured that the state was given all assistance.

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With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 18, 2018 11:14:32 IST