As the second consecutive day of torrential downpour in Kerala comes to a close, Wayanad, it’s crowning jewel in the Western Ghats, stood ravaged by a series of minor and major landslides, killing nine people and sending thousands to relief camps, according to official records. Unofficial estimates by local television channels put the number much higher.
The ecologically fragile zone, classified as one of the four climate change hot-spots in Kerala, received 252.3 mm rainfall against actual rainfall of 184.5 mm in the period between August 1 and August 7, a departure of 37 per cent. On August 9 alone, the Kuppady and Vythiri stations of the Meteorological Department in Wayanad recorded 204 mm and 285 mm rainfall respectively. Follow LIVE updates here
Wayanad District Collector Ajayakumar AR announced on Facebook that if torrential rainfall continued on Saturday, the shutters of the Banasura Sagar dam would have to be lifted to drain out excess water from the reservoir. People residing close to the river and the dam’s sluice gates would have to exercise caution in such a scenario.
The biggest incident of landslide in Wayanad was recorded Thursday evening in the Puthumala tea estate in Meppadi, an area located close to the eastern shore of the Western Ghats. The massive flow of debris is reported to have drowned out a few homes, a church, a temple and a few estate buildings. Combined rescue operations by the NDRF and Army from Defence Security Corps in Kannur have helped in rescuing over 150 people from the area including a nine-month pregnant woman. At the same time, the Army discovered six dead bodies from the area, consisting of four males, one female and a child. More people are reported to be trapped.
Badushah, a local environmental activist, said while the Army and the NDRF did rescue operations Friday, a team of forest officials helped in evacuating hundreds of people from the area on Thursday. “If not for their intervention, hundreds would have been killed. It would have been the biggest disaster in Kerala,” he said, over the phone.
Entering and exiting the district was also an arduous task Friday as all the major Ghat roads remained cut-off due to mudslides. The main Ghat road from Thamarassery remained inaccessible Friday. With the fast accumulation of water in Ponkuzhy near the Muthanga Wildlife sanctuary, the road connecting Sultan Bathery to Mysore remained cut-off. The Met Department has announced code red rain alert for Wayanad and six other districts with ‘isolated heavy to very heavy’ rainfall.