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Heavy rains triggered by impending Cyclone Tauktae battered many parts of the Kerala and more than 15,000 people living in low-lying areas and coastal villages were shifted to temporary camps on Friday, the Kerala Disaster Management Authority said.
After the India Meteorological Department’s warning that the cyclone is gathering high velocity and strength, a red alert was declared in five districts– Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamitta and Ernakulam. As the sea turned turbulent many coastal villages bore the brunt and several houses were damaged in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Alappuzha. A 19-year-old youth was drowned in a swollen river in Mukkam in Kozhikode district.
The whole state has been on high alert and nine teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in affected areas. Kerala has also sought the help of three armed forces. Some areas have received 40 mm rain in the last 24 hours.
“We are facing a peculiar situation. In the midst of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the cyclonic threat is posing an additional burden on us but we will overcome it,” said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan adding the state is prepared to meet the fresh challenge posed by the cyclone. He said the army, air force and navy units were ready to help the state in case of an emergency.
Reeling under the impact of Covid-19, it is a double whammy for many villages. In Kochi’s Chellanam where the test positivity rate is more than 50 per cent, high tides damaged at least fifty houses. Many people were reluctant to leave their homes fearing they would be infected. “We are literally between the devil and the deep sea. A perennial sea erosion area we have been seeking a strong sea wall for many years,” said resident Antony Sebastian who lost his three-roomed house.
Overworked officials have set up separate relief camps for Covid-19 positive patients and health workers have been deputed to monitor their health condition. Authorities swung into action after the warning and opened many relief camps in coastal districts. Some of the rivers in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi have filled to the brim due to the heavy downpour. The state had witnessed a massive flood in 2018 that claimed 400 lives.