As heavy rain continued to lash several parts of Kerala for the third consecutive day on Friday, the state government on Friday sounded red alert in eight districts. With rescue workers retrieving more bodies, the death toll in rain-related incidents rose to 29. Of them, 25 were killed in incidents of landslides and four drowned.
The Met department has predicted heavy rains in the worst-affected districts of Idukki and Wayanad for the next three days.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has spoken to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and assured all possible help in rescue and relief operations. “Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the prevailing flood situation in the state. I have assured all possible assistance from the Centre to the state government. The relief and rescue ops are going on. MHA is closely monitoring the flood situation,” Singh tweeted.
The Home Minister will undertake a survey of flood-affected areas in Kerala on Sunday, a Home Ministry spokesperson said.
Fourteen National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, each with 45 personnel, are being deployed in the state for rescue operations, an NDRF spokesperson said.
After a review meeting, Vijayan said as many as 53,500 persons have been shifted to relief camps, mainly in Ernakulam, Wayanad, Palakkad, Idukki and Kozhikode.
In Ernakulam, which is feared to bear the brunt of the water being discharged from Idukki and Edamalayar dams, 9,476 persons from 2,795 families have been shifted to temporary shelters.
Continuing heavy rain in catchment areas of Idukki reservoir have triggered alarm in Aluva region of Ernakulam district, which is feared to get flooded. On Thursday, water at the rate of 50 cubic meters per second was drained. As the water level continued to rise through Friday, all five shutters of the dam were lifted to enable discharge of water at the rate of 750 cubic meters per second. However, water level in the dam did not register any dip.
Chief Secretary Tom Jose said if the water level in Periyar rises alarmingly, more people from the banks of Periyar in Ernakulam district would have to be evacuated. Already 9,417 persons in the district are in 64 relief camps.
He said although water level in Chengal thodu near Kochi airport has risen, the situation does not demand suspension of operations.
The Army has deployed eight columns in various parts of the state. The Southern Air Command has deployed helicopters to airlift NDRF personnel to Wayanad and the Coast Guard has pressed into service three units of disaster response teams in Ernakulam.
Army personnel have rescued 57 tourists, including foreigners, who were stranded in a resort near Munnar following a massive landslide en route to the resort. — (With ENS, New Delhi)