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Kottayam

Kerala: Man dies as three hospitals refuse admission

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A 62-year-old man died here on Wednesday after three hospitals, including one run by the government, refused to admit him citing lack of ventilator, the distraught family said.
 
Jacob Thomas, suffering from H1N1, was transported to the Kottayam Medical College Hospital from Kattapana in the Idukki district in an ambulance after his condition worsened.
 
"We reached the emergency and casualty department of the Kottayam Medical College Hospital. But the PRO told us they cannot admit my father as there was no ventilator available. Despite passionate pleas, not even a doctor came to see him," Reny Jacob, daughter of Thomas told media here.
 
"We then took him to the Caritas Hospital, which also refused to admit him. We then took him to the Matha Hospital. There also, he was not admitted. As we were left with no option we sought help from the Kottayam Hospital again. But no one attended my father. He died lying in the ambulance." 
 
The family of Thomas has filed a complaint of medical negligence with the police. 
 
State Health Minister K.K. Shailaja has asked the Directorate of Medical Education to conduct a probe into the matter.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala Bishop's bail extended till June 7

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A court near here on Friday extended till June 7 the bail of former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of sexually assaulting a nun between 2014 and 2016.
 
The bail was extended by  the Pala Magistrate Court before which Franco appeared in person. The court has posted the case for June 7.
 
Mulakkal was arrested on September 21, 2018 on rape charges. He secured bail on October 16 and no longer heads the diocese.
 
The Kerala Police on Tuesday submitted a 1,400-page chargesheet to the court against the bishop.
 
It names 83 witnesses, including the Cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Mar George Alencherry, three bishops, 11 priests and several nuns.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala: Bishop sent to 14 days in judicial custody, bail hearing on Thursday

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal, arrested on charges of raping a nun, was on Monday sent to two weeks in judicial custody by a magisterial court while the Kerala High Court posted his bail plea for a Thursday hearing.
 
Judge M. Lekshmi of Pala Judicial Magisterial Court sent the bishop to the Pala sub-jail as the police did not seek his custody.
 
He was presented in the court after his two-day police custody ended on Monday.
 
Even as he was being produced before Judge Lekshmi, his counsel moved the Kerala High Court in Kochi seeking his bail.
 
When the High Court posted the matter for Thursday, the bishop was sent to the Pala sub-jail. 
 
Mulakkal, who headed the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, Punjab, became the first bishop in the country to be sent to jail on charges of raping a nun.
 
On Saturday, the magisterial court had rejected his bail and sent him to police custody. A medical check-up of the bishop was conducted at the Kottayam Police Club.
 
Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 after three days of questioning. He was accused by a nun of repeatedly raping her between 2014 and 2016.
 
IANS
 

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Nun rape: Bishop sent to 2-day police custody

 
Kerala nun rape case: Bishop sent to police custody till September 24
 
 
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been arrested for raping a nun, was on Saturday refused bail by a Kerala court and sent to two days in police custody.
 
The bishop would be kept at the Kottayam Police Club till Monday, when he would be again produced at a court in Pala, near here, a police officer said.
 
Mulakkal, who headed the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, Punjab, was arrested on Friday in Tripunithura after three days of questioning in a sexual abuse case filed by a nun who accused him of repeatedly raping her between 2014 to 2016.
 
The bishop's counsel told the court that his client's blood sample and saliva were forcefully taken.
 
The police said that Mulakkal would be taken to the convent near here, where he is alleged to have raped the nun. He would also have to undergo a potency test.
 
Police had a tough time on Saturday controlling the crowd as people jeered at Mulakkal, who became the first bishop in the country to be arrested for rape.
 
Mulakkal was to be produced in court on Friday following his arrest. However, after he developed chest pains on the way to Kottayam from Tripunithura, he was admitted in the Kottayam Medical College hospital, where he stayed overnight.
 
He was discharged early on Saturday and produced in the court in the afternoon.
 
One of the five nuns who took to the streets in Kochi in an indefinite protest demanding the bishop's arrest, on Saturday told the media: "This protest would not have taken place, had our church authorities taken our complaints seriously."
 
"We never did this for our benefit, instead we wanted to ensure that there would never be another bishop like Mulakkal who would turn a tormentor," the nun added. The protest were called off on Saturday.
 
IANS
 

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Controversial bishop, accused of rape, asked to appear before Kerala Police

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The Kerala Police on Wednesday sent a notice to controversial Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, who has been accused of rape by a nun, asking him to appear before them on September 19.
 
A Kerala nun has accused him of repeated sexual abuse between 2014 and 2016.
 
"We reviewed the entire case today (Wednesday) and there are contradictions in the statements of the victim, the accused and the witnesses. So, we have asked the bishop to appear before us on September 19, when the Investigation Officer would question him. 
 
"The contradictions in the statements have to be cleared, or else there could be issues," Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Sakhre told the media in Kochi soon after a review meeting on the case.
 
"Security to the complainant and the witnessess is there and we have registered cases against the death threats that the nuns have allegedly received," added Sakhre.
 
State Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, deputising for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is off to the United States for treatment, told the media in the state capital that the government is with the victim.
 
"No one needs to be worried for anything and it's unfortunate that nuns have had to stage protests. We all know that the probe has been going on for a while now, but since it has to be submitted to the court, there just can't be any errors," said Jayarajan.
 
On Wednesday, a day-long protest before the state secretariat in Kochi was organised by the Joint Christian Council, whose indefinite relay fast in the state capital entered its fifth day.
 
In the state capital, joining the protesters was former state Congress President V. M. Sudheeran, who said the protests should not be mistaken as one against the Christian community.
 
"The police itself said that all the evidences are there with them in the case, then why are they hesitant to go forward? The state police chief is unable to go forward in this case and it's most unfortunate," said Sudheeran.
 
In Kochi, Wednesday saw more and more leaders -- political and otherwise -- visiting the protest venue. They included top political leaders from various parties, civil society members and film personalities.
 
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Coming to the defence of Mulakkal was his own diocese, who in a statement said that this is nothing but a conspiracy hatched against the bishop.
 
"This is just an allegation... The bishop had visited the nun's home for a function and she looked very happy also. According to her complaint, the previous day the bishop had abused her. If that were the case, could she be happy? Moreover, all the complaints surfaced after a lady came with a complaint against the nun," says the statement.
 
Popular Malayalam film personality Joy Mathew led a protest in Kozhikode against the callousness of the authorities in the case as the nun is yet to get justice.
 
Incidentally, the Kerala High Court will on Thursday look into an affidavit that asked the state government to detail the steps taken on the complaint of the nun.
 
"All the details in the case would be presented before the high court on Thursday in the affidavit," said Kottayam Superintendent of Police who is leading the probe.
 
It was in June that the victim alleged that Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar had sexually abused her several times between 2014 and 2016.
 
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent. However, Mulakkal has denied any wrongdoing.
 
IANS
 

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Nun's body found in Kerala convent well

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The body of a nun was found inside a well at a convent in Kerala, police said
 
The body was identified as that of 54-year-old Susan, a nun who teaches at the St. Stephens School in Pathanapuram, about 80 kms from the state capital. 
 
At around 9 a.m., workers at the Mount Tabor Convent first found blood stains near the well and then saw the body floating inside the well, the police said.
 
Susan had been teaching at the school for the past 12 years.
 
Both the school and the Convent, is run by the Kottayam-headquartered Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church.
 
The cause of the death remains unknown.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood toll 368, over 58,000 rescued, red alert in 3 districts

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state, and a red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday.
 
The 33 deaths reported during the day occurred in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha districts.
 
Rejecting a demand from the Congress-led opposition and Kerala BJP to hand over the rescue operations to the Army, he said: "In a rescue operation, the most important thing is that it should be done only by the local authorities who are well-versed with the locality, and the Army and other agencies' help is sought and a combined operation is done."
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Saturday afternoon forecast that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, are likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
While more than 58,000 people were rescued in areas like Ernakulam, Chengannur, Pathanamthitta and Thrissur, there are still many more waiting to be rescued.
 
Vijayan said that the red alert has now been limited to Ernakulam, Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts only.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in the affected areas.c
 
Earlier in the day, Vijayan told Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a review meeting in Kochi that the death toll since May 29 had climbed to 357 and over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged areas.
 
Vijayan in the morning told the media that the situation is "very serious and grave".
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of the calamity.
 
"There are many people waiting to be rescued in areas like Pandanad (near Chengannur) and I saw two bodies floating in the water. If there is any more delay in, things will take a turn for the worse. We are drinking rain water to keep us going...," said a resident of Pandanad.
 
On Saturday night, a 150-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team started rescue operations in and around affected areas of Chengannur.
 
Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan, who was spearheading the rescue operations in Paravur in Ernakulam district, said that he stood before a rescue boat team with folded hands and they obliged and rescued several people.
 
National award winning actor Salim Kumar, after remaining holed up in his house along with 45 others for three days, was finally rescued by a fishing boat on Saturday evening.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha District Collector S. Suhas said since morning 150 boats including house boats have been engaged in rescuing people and "today (Saturday) we evacuated about 75 per cent of people who were waiting to be rescued".
 
"Around two lakhs people are now in various camps. This could well be the biggest rescue operation," Suhas said.
 
Journalist-turned-CPI-M legislator Veena George on Saturday turned critical "due to the way the government machinery in Pathanamthitta has been working".
 
"None has a clue of how many people have been rescued and how many are left to be rescued. There seems to be a disconnect in coordination of the operations," said George.
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting to return home.
 
However, a landslide near Nelliyampathy in Palakkad district has left around 1,000 people cut off from the mainland and the Army is working to clear the debris.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff failed to report for the duty due to flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
A special train will be back on the Kottayam sector on Sunday, after all services on this route were suspended for the past two days.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad-Aluva highway were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood death toll 357, 11 districts still on alert

The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
More rain hits Kerala's flooding devastation
 
 
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 357 this monsoon season, as 22 more deaths were reported on Saturday and red alert continued in 11 districts following prediction of more rains.
 
The death toll due to torrential rains since August 9 -- the third spell during this year's monsoon in the southern state -- reached 194 with the casualties reported on Saturday in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Chengannur districts.
 
The India Meteorological Department forecast on Saturday afternoon that widespread rains, with heavy rains at isolated places, is likely to continue over Kerala following low pressure area very likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and the neighbourhood during the next 24 hours.
 
Barring Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kasargode, the remaining 11 districts of Kerala continued to be on red alert following prediction of more rains.
 
The worst affected places include Aluva, Chalakudy, Chengannur, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, where massive rescue operations were on as scores of persons were rescued.
 
Media houses continued to be flooded with requests from friends and relatives of those stranded in affected areas.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Kochi. In a memorandum submitted to the Centre, Vijayan said that the death toll in rain-related incidents since May 29 had climbed to 357. Over 3.53 lakh affected persons had been lodged in over 2,000 relief camps, he said.
 
Modi sanctioned Rs 500 crore to the flood-battered state, apart from Rs 100 crore announced earlier by the Centre on August 12, before returning to Delhi after an aerial survey of the affected areas.
 
Vijayan told the media here that the situation is "very serious and grave". 
 
"The death toll would have been higher, but for the work we did. Things are under control," said Vijayan, whose government was flayed by Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala for failing to take up rescue and relief work effectively.
 
Food Minister P. Thilothaman, camping at Chengannur, told the media: "The need of the hour is to provide food packets and drinking water to the people. About 15 small boats of the Navy are expected to join rescue and relief work. But, after dusk, no rescues are possible. Helicopters are also needed for faster evacuation."
 
Meanwhile, anger mounted across Kerala as coordination of rescue work went haywire due to the magnitude of calamity.
 
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Flaying the state for "failing in the endeavour", Leader of Opposition Chennithala said: "I have been flooded with calls from the affected persons. Even now, thousands of people are stranded. The Chief Minister dismissed with contempt when I said this week that rescue and relief should be handed over to the Army. I do not want to blame anyone but it has been proved beyond doubt that the state government has failed."
 
More fishing boats from various places reached the affected areas during the day.
 
Alappuzha Superintendent of Police A.P. Surendran said: "Things are moving fast on Saturday. Helicopters and more boats have been pressed into service. We are confident we will be able to rescue more stranded people."
 
The situation in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Wayanad inched towards comparative normalcy as rains slowed and water level receded, with many living in crowded relief camps awaiting return to their homes.
 
At several places in waterlogged areas, banks could not function normally since staff faied to report for duty due to the flooding.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended on Saturday, with long-distance trains diverted via the Nagercoil route.
 
Certain blockades on the Thrissur-Palakkad highway though were cleared for traffic. Army personnel worked hard to clear the roads to Munnar.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent widespread floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of over Rs 19,500 crore.
 
IANS
 

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PM announces Rs 500 crore assistance to flood-hit Kerala

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced Rs 500 crore financial assistance for flood-ravaged Kerala where hundreds of people have died, lakhs have been rendered homeless and property worth millions of rupees has been destroyed in one of the worst floods and torrential rain in recent history.
 
Kerala reels under worst floods in a century
 
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced Rs 500 crore financial assistance for flood-ravaged Kerala where hundreds of people have died, lakhs have been rendered homeless and property worth millions of rupees has been destroyed in one of the worst floods and torrential rain in recent history.
 
The Prime Minister, who flew from Delhi on Friday night, made an aerial assessment of the damage caused by the floods. However, the survey was done only in some of the affected areas due to bad weather.
 
Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have caused the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over three lakh people forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.
 
The aerial survey of the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains was initially called off due to bad weather. 
 
Following the cancellation, Modi chaired a meeting with Governor P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other officials and witnessed a video presentation of the widespread destruction across the state. 
 
"The Prime Minister announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the state. This is in addition to Rs 100 crore announced on August 12. He assured the state government that relief materials including foodgrains, medicines would be provided, as requested," an official statement said.
 
Modi also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). 
 
Insurance companies were also directed to hold special camps for assessment and timely release of compensation to the affected families and beneficiaries under social security schemes. Directions have also been issued for early clearance of claims under the Fasal Bima Yojna for farmers. 
 
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The statement said villagers, whose houses have been destroyed in the floods, would be provided Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin houses on priority.
 
"The Prime Minister complimented the state government for the efforts made in meeting the challenges of the unprecedented situation. He observed that rescue of people who are still marooned remains the topmost priority," the statement said.
 
The disaster has triggered an unprecedented rescue and relief operation led by the Army, the Air Force and the Navy along with teams of National Disaster Response Force involving about 1,300 personnel and 435 boats. 
 
Thirty eight helicopters have been deployed, apart from 20 aircraft used for ferrying resources.
 
The Army has deployed 10 columns and 10 teams of Engineering Task Force (ETFs) involving around 790 personnel.
 
The Navy has provided 82 teams, the Coast Guard 42 along with two helicopters and two ships.
 
Five Companies of paramilitary troops have also been deployed for rescue and relief measures. 
 
Nearly, 7,000 persons have been rescued since August 9 and some 900 given medical assistance. 
 
IANS
 
 

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Kerala floods: Modi's aerial survey called off

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed aerial survey of the massive loss and destruction triggered by the torrential rains in Kerala was called off on Saturday due to bad weather, state government officials said.
 
Modi, who arrived in the state capital on Friday night, flew in to Kochi earlier in the morning.
 
The Prime Minister was to be accompanied in his survey by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran and other top state officials.
 
His visit comes at a time when the Congress-led opposition has been demanding immediate deployment of the Army since the state government has been unable to deal with the crisis.
 
Overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have resulted in the death of 180 people as of Saturday morning, with over 3 lakh others forced to move to some 2,000 relief camps.
 
Before returning to Delhi from Kochi, the Prime Minister will chair a meeting to discuss the situation.
 
Rains subsided on Saturday morning resulting in the water level in Idukki and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts coming down.
 
But on Friday night, air lifting could not take place in Chengannur as the incessant rains continued in the region.
 
IANS

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Kerala flood crisis: Death toll 174, red alert in 12 of 14 districts

 
Kerala reels under worst floods in a century
 
 
The death toll in rain-battered Kerala touched 174 on Friday as a red alert continued in 12 districts, with various agencies continuing the rescue operations after rains subsided to evacuate over 80,000 persons during the day.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media in the night that the situation arising out of unprecedented floods and subsequent havoc caused by turgid rivers and gushing waters in Kerala continues to be "grave".
 
He said that since August 8 -- when the rains began pounding the southern state -- as many as 3,14,391 persons have been lodged in 2,094 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.
 
Intensity of rains, however, decreased in several districts since Friday morning, leading to decrease in water level in three big dams in Idukki district.
 
The red alert in Kasargode and Thiruvananthapuram districts was withdrawn on Friday though the warning continued in other 12 districts in Kerala.
 
"On Saturday, 25 big Army boats will be deployed for evacuation in Kalady, Chengannur and Thiruvalla. More helicopters will be used for rescue and relief. We are confident that by Saturday, we will be able to rescue all those awaiting help," the Chief Minister said.
 
In the morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the flood situation with Vijayan over phone. He was slated to arrive in the state in the evening and undertake an aerial survey of the affected areas on Saturday.
 
Vijayan pointed out 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. As many as 82,442 persons were rescued on Friday, Vijayan said.
 
"The Centre has allowed the use of the Cochin naval airbase for commercial operations of small aircraft, as the Cochin International Airport has been closed due to flooding. Punjab, Maharashtra, and Telangana have said they will provide food packets while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has pledged Rs 10 crore and other help," Vijayan said.
 
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Waters in Idukki and Wayanad areas and certain areas of Pathanathitta had receded, he said.
 
"One big problem that rescue teams are facing is that some people are unwilling to move to the relief camps. This is not good for their safety," the Chief Minister added.
 
Many people, especially in Kuttanadu area, refused to move to the camps, Finance Minister Thomas Issac said. Rising waters though forced them to change their plan.
 
Idukki's senior revenue official M.P. Vinod said that with lesser rains, water level in various dams in Idukki had come down.
 
"The biggest problem is disruption in telecommunication facilities... We are unable to communicate freely. All relief camps are functioning well and none has any complaint. In Munnar, I am given to understand that the Army is restoring damaged roads. Another huge problem is spread of fake news, which has to be tackled," Vinod said.
 
Helicopters loaded with food packets took off from the state capital and dropped these in central districts.
 
Authorities in worst-affected districts took help of big lorries to navigate flooded roads to reach those marooned in small pockets.
 
Amid the grim scenario in the state, there was good news: A pregnant woman Sajitha Jabeel airlifted on Friday morning by a Navy rescue team from a waterlogged place near Aluva delivered a baby boy at the Kochi Naval Base hospital soon after she was admitted.
 
Meanwhile, authorities in Ernakulam faced problems as a camp set up at U.C. College at Aluva was overcrowded with over 8,000 people.
 
Aluva legislator Anwar Sadat said shortage of fuel was hampering rescue as only boats were being pressed into service.
 
"Things are very bad. Aluva is completely marooned. People have no food or water. Our only solace is the numerous fishermen who are rescuing us.
 
"But now even their families are asking them to return. More defence personnel are required to speed up the rescue and relief," Sadat said while pleading for help.
 
The central district of Pathanamthitta is also facing destruction as overflowing Pamba river has inundated several towns. Ranni, Kozhenchery continue to be completely submerged.
 
Hundreds of fishermen from coastal villages of Thiruvananthapuram arrived at Pathanamthitta and began rescue even as helicopters too began to airlift affected persons to safer places.
 
On Friday, Achenkovil river overflowed into Pandalam town. A boat overturned while carrying out the rescue work, but luckily all on board were saved.
 
The Met office forecast lesser rains in Kerala till Saturday, which should bring some relief to the embattled authorities.
 
Rescue operations are progressing well in Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad. In the last two districts, over 20,000 camps have been set up.
 
Major national and state highways, as well as rail traffic, continued to be disrupted in various parts of the state though more government buses were operated from various depots on Friday.
 
Railway services between Ernakulam and Thrissur remained suspended even as long- distance trains were diverted via Nagercoil route.
 
Long queues were witnessed in front of petrol stations across the state following reports of shortage of automobile fuel due to floods.
 
Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media that even though one should not be finding faults with the state government, a lot needs to be done as thousands of people are still at risk.
 
"We do not know who is providing all these figures to the Chief Minister... there seems to be a lack of coordination as people are suffering in relief camps," he claimed.
 
Kerala is facing the heaviest rains and consequent floods and destruction since 1924, which the state estimates has caused a loss of Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood crisis: Death toll touches 114; armed forces mount massive rescue efforts

 
Worst flood in a century kills over 100 people in Kerala
 
 
With the death toll in the devastating floods rising to 114 in Kerala, and more than one lakh people living in relief camps across the state, the Centre on Thursday deployed all three wings of the armed forces in a massive rescue operation.
 
Torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have cut off vast swathes of land in the state. The Kochi International Airport has been shut till August 26 and Southern Railway and Kochi Metro have suspended their operations in parts of the state.
 
On Thursday, reports of 47 deaths came in mostly from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Pathanamthitta where rivers are in spate since August 8.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned of a grimmer situation as more rain has been forecast till Saturday. "The Centre has sanctioned more men and material," Vijayan said after a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Central leaders.
 
Thursday saw 10 more helicopters joining the existing fleet in the massive rescue operation while 40 additional teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and a team of marine commandos also arrived.
 
Kerala University has postponed all examinations for graduate courses. The state government has also rescheduled Onam vacation for government schools from August 17 to August 29.
 
"Today there are 52 different teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF. With additional teams coming, we feel rescue operations would be speeded up," Vijayan said.
 
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala continued to be the worst affected in the last 24 hours as thousands of people are trapped in their homes in the towns of Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.
 
Around 50 people from Pathanamthitta were airlifted on Thursday and brought to the state capital.
 
Meanwhile, fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
 
"We have requested more fishing boats and fishermen who have experience in operating the boats. They have all started arriving in the Pathanamthitta and Chengannur areas," the Chief Minister said.
 
Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift some marooned families have failed.
 
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur is being regulated since last night.
 
Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. "Shortage of boats is the biggest problem," said Nair.
 
"We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there," said an anxious relative of the bride.
 
Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped, but operations resumed through the Alappuzha sector to the state capital, while the Kottayam sector remains closed. Likewise, the train services resumed operations through the Nagercoil sector.
 
The current crisis took a turn for the worse when, in a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala were opened on Tuesday following incessant rains in the higher reaches of the ghats.
 
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The famed tourist destination of Munnar continued to be in a bad shape, an official said. The Sabarimala temple also remained cut off by the river Pamba. 
 
The hilly district of Wayanad, connected to Kannur and Kozhikode through a hill highway, has also been badly hit with the overflowing Banasura Sagar dam waters creating havoc. Several landslides were reported in the area.
 
In Wayanad alone, more than 20,000 people have been put up in relief camps, authorities said.
 
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Miniter Pinarayi Vijayan and asked the defence forces to speed up rescue and relief operations.
 
"Have asked Defence Ministry to further step up the rescue and relief operations across the state. Praying for the safety and well-being of the people of Kerala," the Prime Minister said, according to a statement.
 
Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha chaired a meeting on the Prime Minister's instructions and asked the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF to mobilise additional manpower, boats and helicopters to scale up the relief measures in Kerala.
 
An official spokesperson said food packets and drinking water were rushed to the state.
 
A Navy spokesperson said the Southern Naval Command has suspended all routine training activities and shifted its focus to the highest state of readiness in the wake of the situation in Kerala.
 
The spokesperson said all available resources for rescue and relief efforts in Ernakulam and Trichur have been mobilised.
 
The heaviest rains and floods witnessed in the states since 1924 have caused massive destruction with damages to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 
 

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Thousands cry out for help in flood-hit Kerala

 
Kerala floods: Army builds 35-feet long bridge to rescue people
 
 
Thousands of flood-affected people in Kerala -- mostly in Pathanamthitta and parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur -- have been stranded as rescuers battle heavy rains to reach out to them even as the death toll in the unprecedented floods rose to 88 on Thursday.
 
Reports said hundreds of people are perched on the roofs of their houses in the worst-hit southern district of Pathanamthitta, where attempts to airlift the marooned families have failed.
 
"My 90-year-old mother-in-law, sister-in-law who is a cancer patient, and other relatives are living in a precarious condition as water is rising not just outside their home near Thiruvalla but inside, too," a relative told IANS. 
 
"When we spoke to the authorities there, they said they are helpless as boats are not available," he said. 
 
CPI-M legislator from Chengannur Saji Cherian said: "Hundreds of people are eagerly waiting to be evacuated and the only way out is airlifting. Unless things move fast, this could turn out to be very serious."
 
TV channels in the state are showing live pictures of people crying for help. 
 
"We are standing on the terrace of our two-storied building near Chengannur and we are being told since last evening that we will be rescued soon. If help does not reach us in an hour's time, we may not be alive, as water level is rising menacingly" is how a family reacted on a TV channel on Thursday.
 
Similar scenes are being shown from Aluva and Chalakudy in central Kerala, after the dam waters from the Idukki district reached the Periyar river and its tributaries.
 
Rahul R. Nair, Ernakulam Rural Superintendent of Police, said hundreds of people need help. "Shortage of boats is the biggest problem," said Nair.
 
The National Highway from Ernakulam to Thrissur is also choked as water has now flooded the main roads in many areas.
 
"We have been stuck on the road for hours now and we are going to Chennai for the marriage of our cousin sister. The prospective bride is in the vehicle. We do not know how we will reach there," said an anxious relative of the bride.
 
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said with time running out, the need of the hour is larger deployment of Army rescuers.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood crisis: Death toll touches 79, rains continue

With rains still pouring down heavily leading to flooding across Kerala, 12 fresh deaths were reported on Thursday, taking the toll to 79, since August 8. More rains were forecast till Saturday.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
With rains still pouring down heavily leading to flooding across Kerala, 12 fresh deaths were reported on Thursday, taking the toll to 79, since August 8. More rains were forecast till Saturday.
 
The entire state has been on a red alert since Wednesday evening. A total of 28 deaths were reported on the day.
 
Pathanamthitta district in central Kerala has been the worst affected in the last 24 hours as thousands of people -- students among others -- were trapped in their homes in Ranni, Aranmula and Kozhencherry.
 
Various media WhatsApp groups, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's, have been flooded with SOS messages from Pathanamthitta crying for help.
 
Fishing boats from Kollam reached the flooded areas as the rescue operation with the aid of defence personnel continued.
 
Traffic on the national highway between Ernakulam and Thrissur has been regulated since yesterday.
 
Train operations between Ernakulam and Angamaly have also been stopped and at Thiruvananthapuram railway station tickets are not being issued.
 
All educational institutions were closed on Thursday. The situation in the capital district on Thursday improved as there were less rains. Water logging in low lying areas also receded.
 
The deaths on Thursday were reported from Malappuram, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Thrissur. 
 
Parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur have been facing tough times with the dam waters from Idukki districts reaching Periyar, and its tributaries late on Wednesday.
 
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In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala were opened on Tuesday, following incessant rains since late that day as the Met forecast more till Saturday.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar though continued to be in a bad shape, an official said.
 
The Sabarimala temple continued to be cut off by the river Pamba in spate.
 
The hilly district of Wayanad connected from Kannur and Kozhikode through a hill highway was badly hit with the overflowing Banasura Sagar dam waters creating havoc. Several landslides were reported in the area.
 
In Wayanad alone, more than 20,000 people have been put up in relief camps, authorities said.
 
The Cochin International airport was closed on Wednesday till Saturday as the Periyar river waters entered the operational area.
 
The airport authorities are worried about the flooding of the Rs 60-crore solar power plant -- one of the biggest in an airport spread over 45 acres. They fear about its working again.
 
The defence forces and disaster response teams have been putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 75,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala faces unprecedented crisis as flood toll rises to 67, state-wide red alert issued

An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday, resulting in 28 more deaths and more destruction and forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday, resulting in 28 more deaths and more destruction and forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
With these deaths on Wednesday, including five of a family, the death toll since August 8 climbed to 67.
 
While a red alert was sounded in 11 of the 14 Kerala districts, including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam, by Wednesday afternoon, it was extended across the state by the evening hours.
 
The state government declared a holiday on Thursday in all educational institutions.
 
Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after water flooded the complex.
 
In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rain since late Tuesday. More rain has been forecast till Saturday.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people for generous contributions to battle the worst floods faced by Kerala in nearly a century.
 
Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Wednesday evening and was assured of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to send more forces to help the state.
 
The five family members died in Malappuram, crushed when their house collapsed. Three were reported missing, while one child was rescued.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged.
 
Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed.
 
Two landslides occurred in Idukki in late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips.
 
The situation in Pathanamthitta district, especially Ranni and its surroundings areas, appeared to be bleak since late Wednesday evening as, local CPI-M legislator Raju Abraham, said things were turning from bad to worse and he was receiving frantic calls from his contituents in Ranni.
 
"Many of them are now perched on terraces as houses up to first storey are flooded and water level is still rising. The biggest problem is no power supply in many flooded areas, with mobile phones running low on batteries," said Abraham.
 
Media offices were also flooded with video messages from affected families for help.
 
Pathanamthitta District Collector P.B. Nooh said that a rescue operation involving 28 boats was going on and another 23 boats have reached the affected areas.
 
Indian Air Force personnel used helicopters to airlift people to safety from some areas of Pathanamthitta district in the evening to the state capital.
 
More and more people poured into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts.
 
The Navy said that it had rescued more than 80 persons in Kerala. As part of its 'Operation Madad', the Southern Naval Command deployed 21 rescue and diving teams with Gemini boats for the purpose.
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain which submerged several low-lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
Among those who had to be shifted from their homes were veteran Congress leader and former State party President V. M. Sudheeran and his wife. Actor turned BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi's house in the city was also flooded.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding of the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the Pamba river was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Vijayan took the Independence Day salute amid rain here and urged everyone to contribute generously.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its level crossed 140 feet. People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
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The Cochin International Airport was closed till Saturday afternoon as water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area. Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"We decided to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the water to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rain predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up. Then only flights will resume. As of now, we have decided to close down till 2 p.m. on August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, and the busiest.
 
Three new teams of Military Engineering Task Force arrived in the state capital in the night. A team of naval officials has already reached Alappuzha district for relief and rescue.
 
Other defence forces and disaster response teams already in the state for the past few days are busy in putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 75,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala faces unprecedented crisis: Flood toll rises to 58; state-wide red alert issued

An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday resulting in 19 more deaths and further destruction, forcing the authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
An incessant downpour battered Kerala again on Wednesday resulting in 19 more deaths and further destruction, forcing the authorities to issue a red alert across the entire southern state.
 
With reports of the fresh deaths, the death toll since August 8 climbed to 58. 
 
While a red alert was sounded in 11 of the 14 Kerala districts, including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam by Wednesday afternoon, it was extended across the state by the evening hours. 
 
Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after water flooded the complex.
 
In a first, the sluices of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rain since late Tuesday. More rain has been forecast till Saturday.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people for generous contributions to battle the worst floods faced by Kerala in nearly a century.
 
Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Wednesday evening and was assured of all necessary help. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to send more forces to help the state.
 
The deaths reported on Wednesday included those of five of a family in Malappuram who were crushed when their house collapsed. Three were reported missing, while one child was rescued.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged. 
 
Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed.
 
Two landslides occurred in Idukki in late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips.
 
More and more people are pouring into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts.
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain which submerged several low-lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
Among those who had to be shifted from their homes were veteran Congress leader and former State party President V.M. Sudheeran and his wife. Actor turned BJP Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi's house in the city was also flooded.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding of the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the Pamba river was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Vijayan took the Independence Day salute amid rain here and urged everyone to contribute generously.
 
The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its level crossed 140 feet. People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
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The Cochin International Airport was closed till Saturday afternoon as water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area. Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"We decided to take this step because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the water to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rain predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up. Then only flights will resume. As of now, we have decided to close down till 2 p.m. on August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, and the busiest.
 
Three new teams of Military Engineering Task Force were scheduled to arrive in the state capital in the evening. A team of naval officials has already reached Alappuzha district for relief and rescue.
 
Other defence forces and disaster response teams already in the state for the past few days are busy in putting up makeshift bridges and clearing roads in the affected areas in Kozhikode, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Idukki and Kannur districts.
 
Indian Air Force personnel used helicopters to airlift scores of people to safety in water-logged Pathanamthitta district on Wednesday evening.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction, leaving more than 50,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

Kerala faces unprecedented crisis as flood toll rises to 47; Cochin airport shut

Unceasing heavy rains battered Kerala on Wednesday, killing eight more people and taking the death toll to 47 since August 8, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to seek generous public contributions to battle the worst floods in nearly a century.
 
Kerala reels under worst flooding in 94 years
 
 
Unceasing heavy rains battered Kerala on Wednesday, killing eight more people and taking the death toll to 47 since August 8, forcing Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to seek generous public contributions to battle the worst floods in nearly a century.
 
Of the 14 districts, as many as 11 including Idukki, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, Kannur and Ernakulam are on red alert, an official euphemism to mean that huge devastation was expected. The Cochin airport was shut till Saturday after flood waters entered the complex. 
 
Thrissur, Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts are on orange alert, asking the authorities and people to be prepared as there was a higher likelihood of bad weather.
 
Those reported dead on Wednesday included a couple in Malappuram who were crushed after their house crumbled. Their six-year-old child is missing.
 
A person died in a Munnar lodge as it crashed. A 70-year-old woman near Pathanamthitta was electrocuted as her house was submerged. Landslides in Malappuram claimed lives too.
 
In a first, sluice gates of 33 dams across Kerala have been opened, following incessant rains since late Tuesday. More rains have been forecast till Saturday.
 
More and more people are pouring into relief camps, including those who had earlier returned to their homes in Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts. 
 
The capital district on Wednesday witnessed heavy rains, submerging several low lying areas. Officials hurriedly opened 14 relief camps.
 
The famed tourist destination in Munnar has been closed for traffic, following flooding in the Old Munnar town.
 
The Sabarimala temple has warned pilgrims not to reach the shrine in view of the surging river waters in the vicinity.
 
Although special prayers were listed for Wednesday, the temple was closed to devotees as the river Pamba was in spate.
 
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Vijayan took the Independence Day salute despite rains here and urged everyone to contribute generously to overcome the challenge of the floods and its destruction. 
 
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The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.
 
The shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened at 2.35 a.m. after its water level crossed 140 feet.
 
People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday.
 
The Cochin International Airport was on Wednesday closed till Saturday afternoon after water released from the Idukki dam flooded the area.
 
Airport Director A.C.K. Nair called the development "unprecedented".
 
"Why we decided to take this step is because since last night dams like Idukki, Mullaperiyar, Idamalayar have opened their shutters. The water released reaches the Periyar river and one of its tributaries flows close to the airport and it is overflowing, sending the waters to our operational area," said Nair.
 
He pointed out that with more rains predicted in the coming days, it was decided to close down the airport operations.
 
"Once the water recedes, it will take us 24 hours to clean up the area. Then only flights will resume. As of now we have decided to close down the airport till 2 p.m. of August 18," said Nair.
 
Cochin airport is one of the three international airports in the state, besides being the busiest. 
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 have caused massive destruction. Over 50,000 people are in relief camps and the damage to crops and properties is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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Nun abuse case: Kerala Police questions bishop in Punjab

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Kerala Police on Tuesday questioned Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese here in Punjab following allegations of sexually abusing a nun, an official said. No arrest has been made so far.
 
The Bishop's quizzing began late on Monday and ended on Tuesday morning.
 
There was high drama before questioning as the Bishop avoided meeting the Kerala team which reached Jalandhar, around 155 km from Chandigarh, on Friday.
 
The Kerala Police team also questioned Father Antony and Jalandhar Diocese Chief Public Relations Officer Father Peter.
 
Three journalists from Kerala also alleged manhandling by the Bishop's private security when they tried to speak to Mulakkal.
 
The Kerala Police team, which was given protection by their Punjab counterparts, arrived at the congregation of Missionaries of Jesus, the headquarters of Christian centres in the region, for investigation.
 
Earlier, the team met former nuns of the Jalandhar diocese on Friday and Saturday.
 
The Punjab Police, fearing law and order trouble, provided protection to the Kerala team.
 
Several followers of the diocese had gathered at its campus in Jalandhar on Friday after hearing about the arrival of the six-member Kerala police team, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) A.T. Subhash.
 
A nun had alleged in June that Mulakkal sexually abused her several times at a convent in Kuruvalangadu near Kottayam in Kerala between 2014 to 2016. 
 
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent.
 
Mulakkal has denied any wrongdoing.
 
A spokesman for the diocese told the media that no wrong had been done by the bishop and that the allegations were being made by the nun at the instigation of people with vested interests.
 
Earlier, statements were taken from the Head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal Mar George Alencherry and also a few other former nuns who were residents at the convent.
 
IANS
 

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Kerala flood fury: Many areas waterlogged, political squabbles begin

A view of flood-hit Kottayam district of Kerala, on July 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
A view of flood-hit Kottayam district of Kerala, on July 20, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Amid flood fury in Kerala's worst-affected districts of Kottayam and Alappuzha, political sqaubbles have broken out with the Congress-led opposition slamming the Pinarayi Vijayan government for failing to respond to the grim situation.
 
Normal life was, however, reported to be limping back to normalcy in eight of the 14 districts where heavy rains have caused severe disruption, official reports said. 
 
At least 20 people have died in the rain-related incidents over the past two weeks. The damage to property is estimated to be close to Rs 1,000 crore, officials said.
 
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who visited the flood-ravaged Kuttanad areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts, blamed the state government for not responding to the situation. 
 
"It is unfortunate that though Alappuzha district has three state ministers, it was only today that one of them turned up along with a Central team to assess the situation," he said.
 
"This is a calamity, but not a single Minister has turned up to be with the people. The relief camps lack basic facilities. The Chief Minister has not held a special cabinet meeting to handle the emergency situation," said Chennnithala while speaking to the media near Alappuzha.
 
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Alappuzha district is home to state PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran, State Food Minister P. Thilothaman and Finance Minister Thomas Issac, who is undergoing ayurveda treatment.
 
Sudhakaran, who arrived with the Central team, dismissed the allegations, saying the government has done everything it can. 
 
"The need is to extend all help in terms of medicines, water and food. A Minister's visit would not matter," said Sudhakaran at Alappuzha.
 
Kuttanadu legislator Thomas Chandy said he had to shift his family to escape the rising water.
 
"I have provided three of my boats to bring relief and help the affected people," said Chandy.
 
At Kottayam, the worst-affected are the low lying areas such as Aymanam and Kumarakom. In many homes, while one family member has stayed back in the waterlogged homes to protect their belongings, the others are living in the relief camps.
 
More than 10,000 people are in relief camps in these two districts. Most educational institutions have been closed for the week. 
 
IANS
 
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Central team in Kerala to inspect flood-hit districts

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A team led by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju arrived in Kerala on Saturday to visit flood-hit districts amid differences over compensation promised by the Centre.
 
Just after his arrival the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs and his team took a helicopter from the airport and headed straight to Alappuzha, the worst affected district. 
 
They will also visit Kottayam before returning to Delhi late on Saturday, an official said.
 
Rijiju told the media here that the compensation package would be based on prescribed guidelines. "When a calamity occurs, the Centre and state jointly works and both pool in their resources. We already have cleared Rs 80 crore on Friday." 
 
Huge damage has been caused on account of heavy rains that lashed most parts of the state over two weeks. Some of the worst-hits include Idukki, Ernakulam, besides parts of Kozhikode, Thrissur, Wayanad, Palakkad and Kannur.
 
More than 10,000 people have been put up in relief camps, he added.
 
The death toll in these rains touched 20 and according to State Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunilkumar the total damage has crossed Rs 900 crore.
 
"About 22,000 hectares of agricultural produce has been destroyed. The biggest lacunae is the rate of the compensation that is prescribed as these are all old norms and insufficient," Sunilkumar said on Saturday. 
 
He said the damage to the crops is around Rs 220 crore. "We will again brief the Centre the urgency to increase the old compensation rates. 
 
Explaining the lacuna in compensation, the Agriculture Minister said Rs 95,000 was being provided for a house completely destroyed. "We have sought an increase as it requires Rs four lakh," he said.
 
IANS
 
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Central Kerala badly hit by rains, 16 dead

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The death toll in Kerala in the heaviest rains in five years and floods has touched 16, with unabated rains badly affecting life in the central districts of Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Idukki.
 
The toll went up on Wednesday following the death of a person, Subramanion, after his canoe overturned, and another man, Bejoy, who died when he fell into an overflowing paddy field near Thrissur.
 
The Met office has predicted more rains in the next four-five days and it may advance towards the northern parts of the state.
 
The authorities are carrying out relief work on a war footing.
 
Around 10,000 people have been put up in relief camps in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ordered district officials on Wednesday to immediately release an amount of Rs 1,000 each to all those who are in these camps on or before July 17 even if they have gone home.
 
The cabinet also directed Chief Secretary Tom Jose to see that an immediate assessment was made of the damages caused by the heavy monsoon.
 
On Wednesday night, Vijayan wrote to the Centre to see that a Central Team was sent to assess the extensive damage that has occurred to life and property besides loss of crops.
 
On account of the overflowing Meenachil river in Kottayam, the Southern Railway decided to cancel 10 trains on Wednesday. Most of these were short distance trains between Ernakulam to Kollam.
 
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There were less rains on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Thiruvananthapuram district witnessing a bright sunny day. Kollam reported less rains.
 
At Kottayam, the worst affected were the low-lying areas. Residents and rescue teams transported more than 50 people to relief camps on boats from these areas.
 
"A funeral was conducted with great difficulty as there was no place in the house to place the body," a villager in Kottayam told the media.
 
A busy entrance exam coaching centre in Pala near Kottayam was flooded and closed for a week.
 
Compared to the past five years, Kerala has received 18 per cent more rains in 2018 and has now recorded the highest in the five year period, the Met figures showed.
 
Leader of Opposition R. Chennithala, who is part of an all-party delegation led by Vijayan that will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, said the state government must seek urgent release of funds to mitigate the loss suffered due to the heavy rains.
 
IANS
 
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Kerala bishop accused of raping nun denies moving to Vatican

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A Kerala bishop accused of sexually abusing a Catholic nun, once again denied the charges on Thursday and the reports of his moving to the Vatican.
 
Even as a special probe team mounted a detailed investigation against Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar in Punjab, he dismissed any plans of going away anywhere.
 
Mulakkal told a Malayalam TV channel in his office in Jalandhar that he has not even been contacted by the police. He also said he has not applied for any anticipatory bail, "because he has done no wrong".
 
"I now hear reports that I am trying to run away to Vatican. I wish to state that I am very much here (Jalandhar) and all such reports are baseless and am not running anywhere," said Mulakkal.
 
Trouble began for the bishop when a Catholic nun alleged that she was sexually abused by him several times between 2014 and 2016.
 
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun.
 
Mulakkal, for his part, maintains that he has done "no wrong at all" and that the nun took part in several functions besides travelling with him.
 
"She also took part in the functions after the death of my mother. I have no clue on why all this has surfaced," added the bishop.
 
The probe team has so far collected evidences from a convent near Kottayam, where the bishop is alleged to have abused the nun.
 
The team will meet a few people in Kannur believed to be helpful in the case.
 
IANS
 
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Congress leader and former Meghalaya Governor M.M. Jacob passes away

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Senior Congress leader and former Meghalaya Governor M.M. Jacob died at a private hospital near here on Sunday, family sources said.
 
Jacob, 90, had been suffering from age related illnesses, according to the sources. 
 
He remained active in politics by taking part in party meetings and had settled in Palai, where his last rites would be held Monday.
 
He was the Meghalaya Governor from 1995 to 2007.
 
Jacob served as the Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House for two terms -- 1982 and 1986.
 
He was also the Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Water Resources and Home Affairs in the cabinets of former Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narashima Rao.
 
The Kerala unit of the Congress party has cancelled all official programmes for Sunday and Monday.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
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No relief from Kerala HC to two rape-accused Orthodox priests

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday declined any relief to two of the four rape-accused Orthodox priests who had moved it for anticipatory bail, posting the next hearing for Monday.
 
The two priests, Abraham Varghese and Job Mathew, of the Kottayam-headquartered Malankara Orthodox Church, sought that the court prevent their arrest as they have been falsely implicated in the case of sexually exploiting a woman parishioner.
 
However the prosecution took a very strong stand that, under no circumstances, should anticipatory bail be given.
 
Counsel for the two priests raised the request that the arrest should be prevented till the court takes up the bail plea, but the court did not take it up.
 
Along with the two who approached the court, two other priests - Jayce George and Johnson Mathew - have all been chargesheeted by the Kerala Police's Crime Branch, probing the case based on the allegations made by the victim's husband, who belongs to the same church, that his wife was sexually exploited by five priests over the past one decade.
 
One priest was left out by police with a senior officer saying the woman had only named four priests in her complaint.
 
On Monday, the Crime Branch, after a preliminary probe, decided to charge four of the five priests and Tuesday they filed the charge sheet of rape and other crimes before the Thiruvalla magistrate court.
 
Inspector General of Police S. Sreejith, who leads the probe team, arrived at the headquarters of the Church at Kottayam and held a closed door meeting with its Supreme Head Baselios Marthoma Paulose II.
 
Interacting with the media after the meeting, Sreejith said that the supreme head has promised to cooperate with the probe and will be ready to help in its completion.
 
Last Friday, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra ordered a Crime Branch probe into this case on the allegations made by the victim's husband.
 
An online portal first reported the story last week, following which tremendous pressure from several quarters, especially social media users, mounted on the Church, which then announced an internal probe.
 
The husband has said one of the priests who first exploited his wife was blackmailing her. When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with another fellow priest and in the end, she came under the duress from at least five priests.
 
The Kerala Police started its probe after the National Commission for Women took suo motu cognisance of the case and wrote to Behra, directing him to investigate the matter.
 
IANS
 
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Four Orthodox Church priests in Kerala booked for rape

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The Kerala Police's Crime Branch, probing the case of alleged sexual exploitation of a woman by some priests of the Kottayam-headquartered Malankara Orthodox Church, on Tuesday registered an FIR against four priests on the victim's complaint.
 
Inspector General of Police S.Sreejith, who led the probe team, said that the FIR charging the four priests with rape has been filed, while clarifying on the number of the accused.
 
"It was true that in the initial news reports there were five priests, but in her complaint, only four of them have been named," he said.
 
He said that the woman will now be asked to give a statement before a magistrate and then again the probe team will sit to decide the next course of action.
 
"At the moment, arrests of the four might not happen, as there are formalities and procedures to be undertaken," Sreejith added.
 
On last Friday, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra ordered a Crime Branch probe into this case on the allegations made by the victim's husband, who belongs to the same church.
 
An online portal had first reported the story last week, following which tremendous pressure from several quarters, especially social media users, mounted on the Church, which then announced an internal probe.
 
The husband has said one of the priest who first exploited his wife was blackmailing her. When she sought help from another priest, he too, threatened her and shared her contact with another fellow priest and in the end, she came under the duress from at least five priests.
 
The Kerala Police started its probe after the National Commission for Women took suo motu cognisance of the case and wrote to Behra, directing him to investigate the matter.
 
With the FIR getting registered, the ongoing probe by a commission of the church might turn out to be infructuous.
 
IANS
 
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