Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

UAE residents stranded in southern India as flooding kills 95

Monsoon rain leads to electricity cuts, flight cancellations and landslides

Indian military personnel conduct rescue operations in the flood affected areas in Belgaum/Belagavi district in North Karnataka, India. More than 80 have been killed in Kerala and Karnataka in flood-related incidents. EPA/INDIA INDIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY
Indian military personnel conduct rescue operations in the flood affected areas in Belgaum/Belagavi district in North Karnataka, India. More than 80 have been killed in Kerala and Karnataka in flood-related incidents. EPA/INDIA INDIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY

Dozens of UAE residents have been left stranded in southern India following severe flooding which has killed 95 people.

Monsoon rains have devastated parts of the south-western state of Kerala, with authorities evacuating more than 100,000 victims.

Cochin International Airport, which serves the city of Kochi, was shut on Friday although is expected to reopen Sunday as water levels recede.

Cancelled flights, landslides, blackouts and a lack of clean water led the military to begin airlifting food and other essentials to those cut off by the flooding.

Deepak Unnikrishnan was one of scores of UAE residents stranded in Kerala after his flight from Kochi to Abu Dhabi was cancelled.

Rescuers remove debris as they search for victims of a landslide caused by torrential monsoon rains in Meppadi in Wayanad district in the southern Indian state of Kerala. REUTERS
Rescuers remove debris as they search for victims of a landslide caused by torrential monsoon rains in Meppadi in Wayanad district in the southern Indian state of Kerala. REUTERS

He said he was now safe at his parent’s home in Irinjalakuda, a town not far from the coast in Thrissur district.

“What we have learnt is if you’re indoors in a safe place don’t leave the house especially if you have provisions and water,” said Mr Unnikrishnan.

Last summer, more than 200 people were killed in one of the worst monsoon floods in Kerala’s modern history. In total, five million people were affected.

Following the tragedy, Mr Unnikrishnan bought waterproof backpacks for his parents to fill with water, food and medicine should a similar scenario happen again.

“I discovered this morning the things they put in their [backpacks] are important documents and files.

“Speaking from the point of view of a son, I would rather they pack a knife, a little bit of food and clothing, but I have a feeling this is the norm.”

Mr Unnikrishnan said relatives of those trapped who were living in the UAE should keep a list of contacts who could check on family when communications are down.

“My parents’ network is very different to my network,” he said. “If you have older parents and you’re not there, you need to figure out a system where you can check in on them,” he warned.

“You need to have some sort of way to feed information back to your love ones if you can.”

Ramya Chidambaran told The National that her mother had become stuck in the floods while trying to fly home to Dubai.

“It was really tough actually knowing that she could be stuck there alone,” said Ms Chidambaran.

“While some of us are lucky to be able to afford other options to be able to get out of there, not everybody is in the same boat, and especially with it being the Eid break.

“You have to try and get your community together and get closest friends and family to go check on them.

“And beforehand, [you have to] make sure they have certain supplies at home so if something does happen, at least they are self-sufficient.”

Her mother, who is 59-years-old, was stuck at Calicut International Airport for 20 hours waiting for her flight to Dubai.

She had travelled for five hours to reach the airport and had no choice but to remain and wait.

“When she went to the airport it wasn’t so bad, it just seemed like normal rain and you don’t estimate that it’s going to get worse,” she said.

The Kerala government opened the gates of the Banasura Sagar Dam in Wayanad district on Saturday to avoid the excess water breaching its banks and flooding surrounding areas.

Indian military personnel conducting rescue operations in the flood affected areas in Belgaum/Belagavi district in North Karnataka, India. EPA/INDIA INDIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY
Indian military personnel conducting rescue operations in the flood affected areas in Belgaum/Belagavi district in North Karnataka, India. EPA/INDIA INDIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY

Meanwhile, Shameem Junaid, an Islamic studies teacher at Indian High School in Dubai, said was still at her parents’ home in the Nilambur municipality after her parents evacuated to her sister’s house, which is now surrounded by water.

Ms Junaid said she was staying in touch with friends and relatives in the UAE through WhatsApp as the nearby Chaliyar River overflowed.

“Many roads are flooded and some collapsed,” said Ms Junaid by WhatsApp. “Bridges are flooded. Transportation is risky and bus services have stopped. So has the train service.”

Mr Unnikrishnan said he had booked a second flight from Coimbatore International Airport in Tamil Nadu but was unable to reach it due to floods.

He said entire houses were submerged and that volunteers were helping to guide traffic through floodwater to keep people safe.

“It’s really sad overall,” said Mr Unnikrishnan. “My parents, they’re just wondering if it’s going to be a repeat of last year, which was supposed to be a one-off.

“The monsoons used to be celebrated but now people are getting more and more wary.”

Updated: August 10, 2019 08:41 PM

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