Updated: August 17, 2018 3:07:15 am
RAINS AND flood water continued to cause extensive damage across Kerala, triggering a series of landslides that claimed the lives of 27 persons Thursday, taking the death toll to 94. Officials said at least 1.65 lakh people have been lodged in 1,155 relief camps across the state, including 1.12 lakh in Ernakulam district alone. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kochi Friday to review the situation, said Union Minister of State K J Alphons.
Ernakulam, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts continued to be flooded for the second day, triggering panic calls for rescue from people stranded atop flooded buildings and houses. At least 360 persons were airlifted from this region as the Navy and Air Force carried out rescue operations in Pathanamthitta, where the Pampa river continued to overflow.
Defence sources said 40 teams of NDRF — a team comprises 20 personnel — would join the rescue mission. Each team will bring 15 tonnes of relief material, they said. The government, meanwhile, warned that water levels in the Periyar river would rise by at least one metre. The Met department has predicted “heavy to very heavy” rain in eight out of 14 districts.
Triggering more panic in the state, 14 persons were killed in a landslide at Koorancheril in Thrissur, eight from three families at Nenmara in Palakkad and seven others in Malappuram. The deluge forced officials to extend the shutdown of Kochi airport up to August 26, as communication networks collapsed in most affected areas. Idukki, the largest district in the state, remained inaccessible.
As frantic calls for help surfaced on social media, the highway connecting Thrissur and Ernakulam was blocked by the overflowing Periyar river. Trains to the north from Thiruvananthapuram were suspended while roads connecting Kerala with Tamil Nadu near Palakkad, Munnar and Idukki were blocked by heavy landslides.
In Budhanoor, about 150 km south of Idukki and near the most affected Chengannur-Pathanamthitta belt, hundreds of people appealed for help. Speaking to The Indian Express, Sobha Rajan, who was stranded in the area along with 25 people including six children, said they were “on the verge of drowning”. Official sources confirmed reports of hundreds stuck in apartment complexes in Aluva near Kochi and Angamali, while over 300 students were stranded in a hostel at the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kalady.
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