Kerala expats concerned about home situation

Flights disrupted to one of the busiest airports, 200 Saudis in Kerala

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People wait for aid next to makeshift raft at a flooded area in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 19, 2018. — Reuters

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — A large of number of Indian expatriates hailing from flood-wreaked Kerala are gradually coming to terms with reality and are bracing themselves for unbelievable developments back home.

The expatriates from Kerala constitute a large proportion among Indians in Kingdom and other parts of the Gulf region.

The unexpected flood disaster has also dampened the festive spirits of Eid Al Adha, Onam — a popular regional festival — and even personal important engagements of many of expatriates.

Besides native Malayalis, a significant number of Saudi citizens also travel to Kerala for Ayurveda treatment and tourism. According to the Saudi Consulate in Mumbai there were approximately 200 Saudi citizens visiting Kerala at the time of floods.

The Cochin Airport, where Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) r flies daily twice from Jeddah, has remained closed for over a week. Saudia and other airlines are rescheduling their flights to nearby airports. Air India also operates weekly four flights to the city and is busy in rescheduling passengers to nearby airports.

“Traveling to any nearby airports is easy but reaching their native towns and villages by road or train is not easy as transportation and connectivity has been damaged largely,” explained a long-time resident of Jeddah, whose house was marooned in the water.

The Saudi Consulate in Mumbai has been providing relief assistance to its citizens, who were in stranded in flood-hit Kerala. The consular team has been stationed in the capital Thiruvananthapuram to assist Saudi citizens, according to a statement issued by Saudi Arabian consulate in Mumbai.

The consulate has plunged into evacuation and other relief assistance to its citizens who were on a visit to Kerala. They said all 200 Saudi citizens visiting Kerala are safe.

The Saudi Consulate has shifted 100 of its citizens to Thiruvananthapuram and facilitated the other 77 Saudi citizens to return home by Saudi Arabian Flight. It has also extended help to six Jordanian citizens to fly back to Riyadh, it said.

Saad Al Garni, consul general in Mumbai, also said that some Saudi citizens are preferring to continue to stay in Kerala as situation is improving. Saudi Consulate has notified three luxury hotels in Kochi to accommodate its nationals who approach for the help.

The Keralite community organizations in the Kingdom are coming together to generate support relief operations back home. Some organizations canceled their Onam celebrations and are planning to contribute to chief minister’s relief fund.


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