Kerala from the sky

A town looked like an island dotted with submerged houses and cars and downed coconut trees

By Reporting by K.M. Rakesh
  • Published 18.08.18
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An aerial view shows partially submerged houses and a church in Kerala on Friday. “In some areas, airlifting is the only option... thousands are still marooned,” chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. (Reuters)

• The worst floods in nearly a century in Kerala have killed 324 people and pushed over 3 lakh people into relief camps, plunging India’s trophy state on social indices into a catastrophe. Why it is a never-before crisis:

• After 1924, this is the first time Kerala is suffering a disaster that covers 13 of its 14 districts 

• The state never had to lift the shutters of 80 dams, including irrigation dams, as it did this time. This eventually led to flooding in the districts

• Kerala has rarely seen 40 of the 41 major rivers in spate

• Never has Kochi, the commercial capital, been cut off so badly with the airport, rail and road services paralysed

• Tourist magnets like Munnar, Wayanad and Alappuzha are completely cut off

• Most of the affected areas like Aluva, Ranni, Kalpetta and Sulthan Bathery are densely populated. Some areas witnessed a construction boom and became a preferred destination for the wealthy

• Many apartment complexes have sprung up along both banks of the Periyar river. NRIs from the Gulf have invested heavily in these apartments and many have moved in after retirement

• A witness on board a relief helicopter in Chengannur town (not in the picture above) in the south of the state told the Reuters news agency: “The town looked like an island dotted with houses and cars submerged in muddy flood waters and downed coconut trees.”

• What Kerala needs most now: Bottled drinking water, dry food such as bread and biscuits, baby food, baby diapers, clothes for people of all ages, inner wear for men and women, sanitary napkins, bed sheets, flannels, paracetamol tablets and pain and cold balms