Kerala floods: First commercial flight lands at Kochi naval base; death toll at 210


New Delhi: The first commercial flight landed on Monday in Kochi over a fortnight after air traffic to the city was completely shut down due to massive flooding at the Cochin International Airport.

Operations at the Kochi airport still remain suspended, but an Alliance Air, an Air India subsidiary, the flight landed today at the city’s naval airstrip, which has been opened up the Indian Navy for commercial operations. The Alliance Air flight took off from Bengaluru and landed at INS Garuda, a naval air station.

Operations at the Cochin International Airport were completely shut since last week as the aerodrome was flooded following unabated rains and the opening of dam shutters in the Periyar river, prompting authorities to divert all incoming and outgoing flights to Thiruvananthapuram or Kozhikode.

The airport is shut until August 26, as the water is yet to recede from the facility, prompting the Indian Navy to offer its airstrip for civilian use. This is the first time in years at that the Navy base has been opened for civilian traffic.

The deadly monsoon rains that savaged Kerala claimed 13 more lives on Sunday, taking the toll to 210 in the last ten days as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said most of the marooned had been rescued and the focus would now be on their rehabilitation.

However, there was a respite from the rains in most parts of the state on Sunday after nearly two weeks of virtually non-stop downpour and the red alert has been lifted in several districts.

The deadliest deluge in close to a century has claimed 210 lives since August 8 and over 400 since May 29 when the south-west monsoon set in over Kerala. More than 80 dams were opened, leading to floods while the rains also triggered landslides.

High-range Idukki district, Malappuram and Thrissur are among the worst hit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday undertook an aerial survey of monsoon-ravaged areas and announced an immediate assistance of Rs 500 crore.

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