Kerala floods: Five airlines offer to fly aid for victims

Qatar Airways and Emirates SkyCargo among airlines delivering lifeboats, food, water and medicines without charge.

    Kerala floods: Five airlines offer to fly aid for victims
    Delivering aid to affected areas has been problematic because Kochin airport had to be shut down [Amit Dave/Reuters]

    Five airlines that fly to the flooded Indian province Kerala have said they will deliver relief goods for free to the affected areas.

    Three of the airlines are from India; Air India, Jet Airways and Air Vistara, and two from the Middle East; Qatar Airways and Emirates SkyCargo.

    "Jet Airways, India's full service, premier international airline, has waived off air freight charges on all domestic cargo shipments of relief material to Kerala," Jet Airways said in a press release.

    The airline will work with several NGOs to deliver relief goods to Kerala.

    Vistara, another domestic airline, said it was also partnering with several NGOs to bring supplies, adding that it would fly doctors, nurses and other specialized people to the flooded areas too.

    Qatar and Emirates

    Qatar Airways said earlier this week it would deliver 50 tonnes of goods to Kerala after pleas from relatives living in Qatar.

    "We have received earnest requests from the Indian community residing in Qatar seeking support to transport relief aid to Southern Kerala, where many of their families and relatives are affected by the worst flood in a century," Qatar Airways Chief Officer Cargo, Guillaume Halleux, said according to The Peninsula.

    "Given the devastating situation, we have rapidly activated a humanitarian operation to offer free transportation of relief goods from Doha to Trivandrum on our daily passenger flight," he added. 

    In an official statement, Emirates said it would bring over 175 tonnes of goods to Kerala.

    "The goods, including lifesaving boats, blankets and dry food items, will be handed over to the local flood relief and aid organisations for distribution," the statement said.

    Flights to Kerala's Kochi airport have been halted because of flood damage to the transport hub. Therefore, the relief goods will be delivered to Kerala's capital, Trivandrum. 

    The floods have also damaged hundreds of kilometres of roads and disrupted train services.

    The province has been lashed by torrential monsoon rains since the end of May, triggering landslides and flash floods that have swept away entire villages.

    Incessant downpours since August 8 have killed more than 190 people and left thousands more stranded. 

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    Medical officials and NGOs, meanwhile, warned of a heightened risk of waterborne disease outbreaks due to the flooding.

    Local health officials said earlier this week they were prepared to deal with any such emergence of disease and had distributed preventive medicines in a bid to avert an outbreak.

    The floods caused an estimated $3bn of damage, with about 10,000km of Kerala's roads and more than 100,000 houses needing to be reconstructed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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