Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 27 (IANS): The death toll in the Kerala floods would have been much higher but for the timely help provided by the military, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.
The calamity would have been greater if the armed forces hadn't worked hand in hand with the Kerala government, Vijayan said at a formal farewell function held here on Sunday in honour of Central forces which played a key role in rescue and relief operations.
"We could directly witness the bold initiatives they took to rescue those who were stranded in the flood waters," said Vijayan at the function held at Air Force Station at Shanghumukham.
He appreciated the military and paramilitary forces who saved the helpless, braving adverse circumstances, an official statement said.
"All that we can say is that your services will be kept in mind in the times to come too, with gratitude and appreciation."
The Chief Minister presented citations to Air Marshal B. Suresh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command, and Rear Admiral R.J. Nadkarni, Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, among others.
Air Marshal Suresh said they could act efficiently because of the clear directions given by the Chief Minister. "He was leading from the front."
The Air Marshal also appreciated the volunteers, fishermen and all those who were part of the rescue and relief activities and saluted the "indomitable spirit of Malayalis".
Hundreds have been killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless in the worst floods to hit Kerala since 1924.