The precious time of rescue workers, too, was wasted by pranksters during the Kerala floods.

Fake messages and fooling around in the time of floods
news Kerala Floods Monday, August 20, 2018 - 19:26

It came as a typical SOS message. “Lives of 35 people in Edanad, Chengannur are in danger. Please send a rescue team soon.” That’s in Malayalam. And below the message is the address and phone number to contact someone called Jayesh. The SOS reached one of the many groups that were coordinating to reach out to the rescue calls during the floods, and verify the situation. When a volunteer dialled the number, someone picked up the phone and said, “I am in Suresh Gopi’s house, talking to Mohanlal.” Naming two actors in one breath without being asked.

For the volunteer, who had been dialling hundreds of such numbers day in and day out, this was extremely frustrating. But this was not the only instance of a fake SOS message, or a prank call,  reaching the call centres.

In fact, there were so many pranks, that people handling crisis calls ask how so many people thought it was the right time to play such tricks.

The precious time of rescue workers, too, was wasted by pranksters. Kishore Mohan, who had passed on a phone number and location to a team of rescue volunteers, was infuriated to find it was fake. The message came from someone who was supposedly on the verge of death trapped in a flooded house.

Kishore writes: "After hours of trying to locate the person, this turns out to be some asshole's idea of a joke. What these idiots can't seem to wrap their heads around is the simple fact that they're stealing precious time that could've been used to save someone whose life is in actual danger." When the person did pick up the phone later, he allegedly told them that he was running out of Viagra.

In a video report, a Navy personnel speaks of a young man who was waving his shirt at a helicopter on rescue mission. Thinking he was in trouble they flew to him through very difficult conditions. “The lad then took out his phone, clicked our photo and said ok, thanks, bye. It’s not just the fuel he wasted but the time that could have been used to save other people genuinely in trouble,” the Navy personnel says.

It was also not easy for the rescue team to keep rowing through the floods to take food to the stranded ones who refuse to leave with them.

There are numerous instances when after taking a lot of trouble to reach stranded people, they simply refuse to be rescued, preferring instead to cling on to the home they know and love so much. While you can empathise to a certain extent, this was one of those times when you had to keep your sentiments locked away and turn practical. Perhaps you have been through a lot of floods before. But this was nothing like what Kerala has been through in a long, long time.

Actor Tovino Thomas came on a video to make a plea to the people to please get on the boats or copters coming to rescue them. “The rescuers would have gone through a lot of trouble to reach you," he said. And when they do, don’t look at them like enemies depriving you of your home.

Houses could be rebuilt – perhaps it won’t feel like home again for long. But lives lost can only be mourned. Save them.

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