Rescue operation in final stages

The rescue operation for flood victims in Pathanamthitta and Thrissur districts continued on Saturday with response teams battling strong river currents and heavy rain to bring stranded citizens to safety, even as a parallel crisis unfolded in the Kuttanad region, where rising floodwaters inundated thousands of houses, forcing a mass evacuation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who undertook an aerial survey of some of the flooded areas, announced an interim assistance of Rs. 500 crore against a demand of Rs. 2,000 crore made by the State government. This is apart from the Central assistance of Rs. 100 crore pledged earlier. The rescue work involving the armed forces and State government agencies was focussed on Chengannur and Chalakudy. Amid frantic calls for help from hundreds of stranded citizens, the Army deployed bigger boats in the flooded areas. As many as 22 helicopters and 119 boats of the Navy and Coast Guard were also involved.

Reacting to the Opposition’s demand that the rescue operations be handed over to the Army, the Chief Minister said the Central forces had worked closely with the civilian administration under a joint command and control system to carry out rescue and relief operations. “There is no precedent of the Army carrying out a disaster management operation by itself,” he said.

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