Rain fury unabated in Kerala, toll rises to 42, nearly 1.25 lakh displaced from homes

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the rain fury remains unabated in most parts of Kerala, rocked by 80 landslides and floods in the last three days, the death toll climbed to 42 on Saturday and nearly 1.25 lakh people have been displaced from their homes, officials said.

A year after Kerala was devastated by the deadliest monsoon that led to the worst deluge in a century, the southern state has been at the receiving end of nature’s fury

One of the four shutters of the Banasurasagar dam, located about 21 km from Kalpetta in Wayanad, one of the worst affected districts, was opened at 3 p.m to discharge excess
water and people on the banks of the Kabini river have been asked to be cautious.

One of the largest earth dams in India and the second largest of its kind in Asia, Banasurasagar, impounds the Karamanathodu tributary of the Kabini River.

A red alert for rainfall has been issued in eight districts of Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod.

Across the state, 1,24,464 people have been shifted to 1,111 relief camps, including 25,0028 in Kozhikode and 24,990 in Wayanad, officials said. Many people are still feared trapped under debris following major landslides that hit Kavalappara in Malappuram
and Puthumala in Meppadi in Wayanad.

As rescue operations were on in Kavalappara, another landslide occurred in the region on Saturday due to which search operations have been halted.

The continuous rains have triggered multiple landslides and overflowing rivers have caused flooding in several parts of Malappuram, Kannur, Idukki, Palakkad, Chalakudy in Thrissur and Kasaragod districts.

Several trains have been cancelled and flight operations from the Kochi international airport, which had been suspended following inundation, will resume at noon on
Sunday, an airport official said.

“Airport is ready. Flight operations will resume at noon tomorrow. That is ahead of the deadline. Airlines are instructed to facilitate services accordingly,” a Cochin
International Airport Limited Spokesperson told reporters in Kochi on Saturday.

Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, who took stock of the flood situation, said on Saturday around 80 landslides had occurred in 8 districts in the last three days and allayed
fears of opening dams, saying all the major dams have enough storage capacity.

He also warned that strong action would be taken against those spreading false news about floods. “While we are engaged in rescue operations, some are spreading false news across the social media. Will take strict action against such people. Some people were spreading news that there will be power cuts or shortage of petrol and all that.

“Not all dams are full. We have enough storage capacity in all major dams of the state. As of now only 30 per cent of water is there in Idukki dam. Last year it was nearly
98 per cent,” he added.

Various agencies including the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, NDRF, police force, volunteers, including fishermen are working together in the rescue mission at various places.

“Most of the people, specially youngsters have come forward to volunteer for the rescue and rehabilitation missions. Their act builds confidence among us,” Vijayan said.

Rains have subsided in Ernakulam district but Pathanamthitta district was receiving heavy rainfall and the water level in Pamba river was rising.

The government has opened 15 relief camps in Thiruvalla. The Chief Minister also praised a KSEB assistant engineer who lost his life while on duty.

“Officials are putting their lives in danger, risking their lives during rescue operations. They doing selfless service. One such official, an Assistant Engineer of KSEB, Baiju lost his life while performing his duty. Such dedicated officials are on the field for rescue operations,” Vijayan said.

The deluge continues in Kerala even as the state grapples to fully recover from the extensive damage caused by the floods of August, 2018 that claimed over 400 lives and
left lakhs of people homeless. (AGENCIES)