Kerala floods: A rescue act at knifepoint in Ranni

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Babu Namboodiri and M K Gopakumaran rescued some 100 people in Aythala area, the worst-affected in Ranni, in the wee hours of August 15.
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People getting threatened at knifepoint is common in real life and someone being rescued at knifepoint, something seen only on sliver screen. Babu Namboodiri, native of Aythala in Ranni, had to, literally, draw a knife to guide some people back to life during the recent deluge that displaced nearly 14 lakh people and killed 230 in Kerala.

It was a desperate act by rescuers, since people were reluctant to leave their houses despite water level rising menacingly. Babu and his friend M K Gopakumaran rescued some 100 people in Aythala area, the worst-affected in Ranni, in the wee hours of August 15.

They used Babu's small fibre boat to move people to safer locations. Given the small size of Babu's boat, it was difficult to convince people to get on it. He threatened those who refused to take his helping hand. By the time he ended his operation, after two days, all the people in Aythala area was shifted to safe places.

Surging waters came to the level of overhead electricity poles and had spared no house in the area. In fact, when floodwater came rushing in people were caught unaware.

Most people thought that water wouldn't rise much. It took Babu a lot of coaxing and cajoling to get them on to his boat.

Babu, who is a devaswom board employee, was on leave following the death of a relative. Once the rescue work was over, they started relief operations and distributed food to those who have been left behind in houses. They also went to the houses of undeserving people who took away food meant for the affected, took it back from them and distributed among the needy.

Babu and Gopan, the two-man rescue army of Aythala, can be proud since their mission was a big success; no one died; no one even suffered any serious injury. If not for them, at least 60 people might have lost their lives, say villagers.

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