Thiruvananthapuram: Commercial flights from the Naval base at Kochi commenced today with the first Air India flight from Bengaluru arriving this morning. Small aircraft are being operated from the naval airport as the Kochi airport has shut operations till 26 August following flooding in the heavy rains.

The first Air India flight from Bengaluru arrived this morning and returned by 0830 hours.

Train services between state capital and Ernakulam are also slowly getting on track. Trains on the Ernakulam-Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha-Kottayam routes were packed with flood affected people moving to the houses of their friends and relatives.

The deadly monsoon rains have claimed 210 lives since 8 August 8 and has displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes. In the worst affected Chengannur in Alappuzha district, efforts are on to rescue some of those stranded in certain pockets, including Pandanad.

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), a fresh low pressure area has formed over northwest Bay of Bengal on Sunday, but it will not have any significant impact over Kerala, where rainfall is likely to decrease further over the next five days.

Rehabilitation will be the next big focus of the state government with most of the marooned having been rescued, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Rainfall over Kerala during the southwest monsoon (1 June to 19 August) has been exceptionally high. Kerala has so far received 2346.6 mm rains against the normal of 1649.5 mm, according to IMD.

Idukki recorded the highest excess rainfall (92% above normal) followed by Palakkad (72% above normal). These two districts had reported several deaths and massive destructions due to flooding and landslides.

Thirteen people lost their lives Sunday while 724,649 lakh people were housed in 5,645 relief camps across the state. Rescue operations are in the final stages. Around 22,000 people were rescued on Sunday in operations launched by the defence personnel, national and state disaster response forces, fishermen and local people.

The next big challenge for the government now is the threat of an epidemic. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said six health officers would be deployed in each panchayat to ensure there was no outbreak of any communicable diseases as the flood water recedes.

People have started returning home from relief centres. Many were shocked to see the state of their homes covered with mud and slush as the water receded.

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