Rain fury in Kerala: Heart-wrenching scenes in high ranges; at least 15 killed; rescue efforts on

News Network
October 17, 2021

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An elderly woman could be seen running from one person to another screaming through the rain swept roads in this high range hamlet, located at the foothills of Western Ghats mountain ranges, on Sunday morning. "I have lost everything...everything in my life...where should I go?...who will give me a shelter?" the woman, clad in a tattered saree, asked aloud crying and running here and there.

The unexpected torrential rain, which pounded the village on Saturday, washed away every penny of her life time earnings and made her homeless all of a sudden. 

At least 15 people have been killed in Kerala as heavy rain triggered landslides in Idukki and Kottayam districts. Lord Ayyappa devotees have been asked to avoid visiting Sabarimala Temple today and tomorrow. The rescue ops are underway.

"I begged our Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sir to give me two cents of land to construct a 'koora' (hut). I have nowhere to go. My daughters' houses are also submerged. Now I am going to the church to see whether I will get a place there," she told the journalists gathered at the place.

It was the story of many hapless families in Koottickal, located in Kottayam district of Kerala which suffered severe destruction and human casualty due to a series of landslips triggered by heavy rains yesterday.

When the extreme rains showed a slight dip this morning, a large number of people in this village could be seen as displaced and became the inmates of the rehabilitation campus. Many elderly villagers said it was for the first time in their decades-old life that they were seeing and experiencing such severe rainfall. A local shop owner here pointed to his new car, which can be seen as destroyed and partially hanging with its back wheels stuck on a broken wall in his house compound.

"It was my new car parked in front of the house. I was not at home when the flood water suddenly gushed inside the house compound Saturday afternoon. My wife and children somehow managed to run to the neighbour's house," the middle-aged man said. He turned a bit emotional showing the 'mundu' (dhoti) which he was wearing, saying that it was borrowed from the neighbour. Only life was saved and everything else was lost, he said adding that not even in the 2018 floods had he faced such a terrible situation.

The situation was not different in Kokkayar, a hilly hamlet in Idukki district as well, which also witnessed a series of landslips and human casualties on Saturday in incessant rains. A shocked Rajamma, a woman villager, was yet to believe that a four-member family including children, who were seen engaged in some construction activities near her home on the foothills of the hill, swept away by floodwaters in front of her eyes.

The elderly woman said she advised the family to move away from the place when water was seen coming down from the hilltops on a small scale. "But, they continued their work. Suddenly a portion of the hill, where they were standing, caved in... huge boulders started rolling down accompanied by a massive flood of water... I do not remember anything else," the teary-eyed woman said.

George, a middle-aged man engaged in rescue operations, said it was everything fine and calm in the village till 11 PM on Saturday. "But, the situation worsened after that. Around 10 big bridges and the same number of wooden bridges were washed away and the village became isolated soon," he added.

The Army, NDRF, police and the Fire Force along with the locals began rescue operations on Sunday morning at Koottickal and Kokkayar panchayats where over a dozen people are listed to be missing due to numerous landslides accompanied by heavy downpour since Saturday.

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News Network
November 17,2021

New Delhi, Nov 17: The number of fully vaccinated individuals against Covid-19 has surpassed the partially vaccinated eligible population for the first time in the country, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday.

This feat has been made possible due to the prime minister's vision of 'Jan-Bhagidari' and “Whole of Government Approach”, people's faith and confidence in the government, and the ongoing 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign which has seen a tremendous response from various parts of the country, Mandaviya said.

"In a significant achievement to the nationwide vaccination coverage for the country, for the first time the number of fully vaccinated individuals has surpassed those who have been administered only a single dose of vaccine," the minister said in a statement.

The country has in total administered over 113.68 crore doses, according to the provisional report at 7 am.

This has been achieved through 1,16,73,459 sessions. Out of which, 75,57,24,081 doses were administered as first dose and 38,11,55,604 doses were administered as second dose. The number of fully vaccinated individuals (38,11,55,604) exceeds those who have been administered a single dose (37,45,68,477), the minister said.

The Union Health Minister congratulated the collective spirit of the country on this achievement.

In a tweet, he appealed to all eligible citizens to get vaccinated.

“We will win the battle against Covid-19 together,” he stated.

The Union Health Minister expressed confidence that the country will have vaccinated every Indian by the end of the month-long 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign, according to the statement.

“The staunch political commitment of the Government of India to protect every citizen from Covid-19 through vaccination has enabled the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive to achieve several feats ever since its inception on January 16, 2021. 

"The nation achieved the distinction of having administered 100 crore doses on October 21. Subsequently, the prime minister gave a clarion call and launched the 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign on November 3 to knock at every door and reach out to every household and immunise every citizen against Covid-19 in the spirit of Antyodaya”, Mandaviya said.

The month-long 'Har Ghar Dastak' vaccination campaign aims to ensure that all the adult population is covered with the first dose of vaccine, while those who are due for the second doses are motivated to take the second dose.

Healthcare workers are conducting door-to-door vaccinations of eligible people across India with a special focus on districts where less than 50 per cent of the eligible population has been vaccinated, the statement said.

The Union Health Minister also assured people that there was no shortage of vaccine doses in the country and urged them to come forward for the second dose, and motivate those in their family and community to take both the doses.

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News Network
November 26,2021

New Delhi, Nov 26: The Centre will resume regular international flights from December 15, barring 14 countries, people familiar with the development said on Friday. 

The countries which do not feature on the list are the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Singapore, sources said. 

The decision has been taken in consultation with the health ministry in light of the Covid situation across the world, especially the emergence of new variants. On Thursday, South Africa confirmed a new variant of Coronavirus which is believed to be more transmissible and vaccine-evasive. 

The variant has been reported in Botswana and Hong Kong as well apart from South Africa. India is not resuming regular international flight operations with Botswana and South Africa.

With some of the countries on the list India has a travel bubble that permits a certain number of flights a week, which will continue, officials explained.

Regular international flights operations were suspended in March 2020 owing to the Coronavirus pandemic. The civil aviation ministry started Vande Bharat flights to ferry Indians who got stuck in other countries during the pandemic. After the Vande Bharat flights, the ministry entered into air bubble agreements with some countries allowing international travel.

With the number of Covid cases steadily going down and the vaccine coverage in the country going up, the Centre was mulling easing restrictions regarding international travel. Two days ago, civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal said the ministry is working towards allowing international passenger flights from this year-end.

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia too recently expressed the ministry's keenness to resume normal international travel operations. “We are evaluating the process. We are coming back to normalcy. First, we allowed 100% passenger capacity in our domestic flights and now we allowed in-flight meals in those flights," Scindia said at an industry summit.

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News Network
November 29,2021

Bengaluru, Nov 29: Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai made it clear that there is no proposal before the government for a lockdown in the state.

Speaking to media persons on Monday during his private visit to the city, he said people need not panic and that the government was not in favour of a lockdown. "There is no need to declare holiday for schools and colleges. But the government would keep a close watch over the rise in cases and take steps to contain the spread of the virus," he said.

He also claimed that the government was taking steps to contain the spread of Omicron variant. "Those who are entering the state from overseas are being examined. A strange symptom has been found in a person who came from South Africa and the sample has been sent to Indian Council of Medical Research laboratory for testing. The report is awaited," he added.

Following the rise in number of Covid-19 cases in Kerala, all travellers coming from the state are being screened for the viral infection.

With the South African variant of coronavirus posing fresh threats, the administrations of the districts bordering Maharashtra have upped the vigil at the checkposts. 

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