Kerala floods LIVE updates: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Kerala tomorrow evening, Union Minister Alphons Kannathanam told reporters. The prime minister will leave Delhi after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cremation and will land in Kochi tomorrow night. He will tour the state to take stock of the flood situation on Saturday.
Torrential rain and floods played havoc in Kerala, claiming 30 lives today, swamping homes, destroying roads, and disrupting air and rail traffic in many places, officials said. Altogether 97 people have died in rain-related incidents since the second spell of monsoon fury got unleashed on 8 August.
The Centre today decided to send 35 more NDRF teams comprising nearly 1,000 personnel to shore up relief and rescue operations in rain-battered Kerala. The government had initially directed sending 12 fresh teams of the federal disaster contingency force to the state and later decided to airlift 23 more teams in order to scale up the operations. 18 teams of NDRF are already deployed in the state.
Kochi Metro has resumed its operations at 4 pm, today to help with the relief and rescue operation in the flood-hit district. The service will be free of charge for today. Meanwhile, the Kochi Airport which is completely inundated by flood water will remain closed till 26 AUgust. Earlier it was to resume operations on Saturday.
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to the people living along the Chalakudy river and its tributaries to move to higher places.
The Central Water Commission has sounded a fresh warning in the Cauvery river basin. In a fresh release, it has said that there is a likelihood of heavy water discharge from the Kabini dam and Krishna Raja Sagara Dam. The combined released water would subsequently reach the Mettur Dam, Bhavani Sagar Dam and Amravathi Dam, which could cause severe flooding in downstream areas of Bhivani (Erode district) and Thirumukkudal (Karur district).
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami, on Thursday, responded to a letter by his Kerala counterpart, Pinarayi Vijayan. Palaniswami told the Kerala government that the Mullaperiyar dam which is managed by the Tamil Nadu government, is perfectly safe and it has been inspected by experts from time to time for any structural damages.
A total of 20 deaths have been reported so far from various parts of Kerala. This has taken the total toll, since 8 August when the worst floods in the history of Kerala hit state, up to 87.
National Crisis Management Committee met to review Kerala floods situation. Chiefs of three Services, Home and Defence secretaries attended the meeting. Nirmala Sitharaman in a series of tweets assured that every help sought by Kerala government will be extended.
"Several MPs have called for help. NRIs highlighted Pattamthitta, Ranni & Aranmula. Have directed Indian Air Force for airlifting people stranded on rooftops," Sitharaman tweeted. The defence minister said that she spoke with Pinarayi Vijayan who requested more boats, and life jackets. "Have instructed Defence Secretary to respond immediately. Awaiting the list from Chief Secretary, Kerala. There shall be no delay from our side. Additional IAF helicopters will be deployed," the defence minister said.
Twelve fresh teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been rushed by the Centre today to rain-battered Kerala. Six teams each are being airlifted from Delhi and Gandhinagar (Gujarat) and they will be dropped at Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, a force spokesperson said.
As the flood situation in Kerala gets worse, Pinarayi Vijayan warns people to move to safer locations as the water level in, both, Periyar and Chalakudy rivers will rise. "The water-level in both Periyar and Chalakudy rivers will rise. People in 1 km radius of Chalakudy, and those inside ½ km of radius of Aluva, must evacuate the place immediately," the chief minister tweeted.
The Indian Air Force has rescued 28 people from Pathanamthitta district. The survivors were rescued in INS Garuda. Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has warned high waves in the range of 3.5 - 4.0 meters till 11.30 pm on 17 August along the coast of Lakshadweep Islands from Minicoy to Bitra, Kerala from Vizhinjam to Kasargod and along the coast of Karnataka from Mangalore to Karwar.
The agency said that sea condition was likely to be rough to very rough over Southwest and central Arabian sea. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into sea over Karnataka, North Kerala coasts, over Lakshadweep area and Southwest and central Arabian sea.
The central government has agreed to deploy 40 more teams of National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) to tackle the flood situation in the state. The decision was taken at a video conference state chief secretary had with the Union cabinet secretary today.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Centre had asked the Air Force to send 10 more helicopters and Navy four more to the state. The additional helicopters are expected to arrive at Kochi by 1 pm, he added. The Centre has also asked Air Force to send 10 more helicopters
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the water level in the Periyar river was likely to rise by one more meter and urged people living on the banks of the river to move to safer places. He has also asked people living within 1 km from the bank of Chalakkudy river to be prepared to move out. Vijayan said people in many places were not willing to leave the homes thinking their area will not be flooded.
Speaking to reporters, Union Minister KJ Alphons said that these floods were the worst since 1924. At least, 12 districts in Kerala have been severely affected. "These are the worse floods since 1924. I met PM, Home Minister and Defence Minister yesterday. Army, Navy, IAF, Coast Guard and NDRF are conducting rescue and relief ops. It is predicted that water levels will rise," said KJ Alphons.
Ernakulam MP K V Thomas said that the rescue operations in the state were slipping from the hands of the state administration and large-scale help of the central government was required to save the state from the biggest disaster.
He said that he had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to personally intervention in the situation and send more Army and Naval forces to the state. He said there was big need for boats. The fibre and wooden boats available in the state were not suitable for the rescue operation. The state needs rubber boats, which are available with the Army and Navy.
Unprecedented rain swells Muvattupuzha river, Ernakulam, leaves most places inundated. People are being airlifted in Chalakudy and Bhoothathankettu areas. Survivors are advised to stand in open areas on top of buildings and houses to avoid possible hindrances by trees.
The flood situation in in Alappuzha district turned grim, especially in several places in Chengannur and Kuttanad taluks which are isolated and an unknown number of people remain stranded in their homes awaiting rescue.
Water level has risen in the region after the shutters of the Kakki, Anathodu and Kochu Pampa reservoirs, part of the Sabarigiri hydroelectric project in Pathanamthitta district, were opened, The Hindu reported.
The Kerala government has set up a helpline capable of tracking the location of the caller. Chief Minister’s office has appealed to people trapped in the floods to call 1077 from mobiles. Meanwhile, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has convened an emergency meeting to review the unprecedented situation caused by heavy rains.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has just called Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He has requested him for more central forces to help in rescue and relief work. He has also asked for more helicopters. PM has promised all help. The situation in Aluva, which is the worst-hit by the flood, has worsened with water entering even in relief camps. Local MLA Anwar Sadath said that thousands of people were trapped in seven panchayats of the taluk. The authorities have not been able to reach out to them in the absence of sufficient boats.
Palakkad inundated: Image by TK Devasia
Kerala’s commercial capital of Kochi is being cut off from rest of the state with train services coming to a halt and road traffic disrupted in the NH 47. The Kochi airport on Wednesday had suspended operations till 2 pm on August 18. Thousands of vehicles are stranded on the NH 47 as several stretches between Aluva and Chalakkudy are in deep waters.
On the seventh day of Operation Madad, Southern Naval Command deployed 21 rescue and diving teams with Gemini boats in flood-hit Kerala as the monsoon has intensified in the state.
As the flood situation in Kerala is deteriorating day-by-day, a total of four teams went out on Wednesday to augment those already deployed in the areas. More than 81 people were rescued yesterday and many of them were also provided with food and shelter by setting up a rescue camp.
The IMD has issued red alerts in all districts today and in seven districts on Thursday. Hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad are experincing extremely heavy rain and heavy rainfall in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts. The IMD has predicted heavy to very heavy rainfalll in the remaining districts, including Ernakulam
Acute shortage of boats is hampering rescue operations in many areas in Kerala. The Pathanamthitta district administration has sought the services of fishing boats from Kollam to rescue hundreds of people stranded in various parts of the district following flood in the Pampa and Killiyar rivers. The Thrissur district administration has also sought fishing boats to rescue people stranded in the floods.
Nearly 70 people have been reported dead and thousands stranded in various part of Kerala after days of incessant rains. The flood situation in Kerala has further worsened with many areas inundated with death toll in the current spell of heavy rain rising to 35. Four people were killed when a mass of earth fell on a house at Erattupetta in Kottayam district on Thursday. Two people were killed in a house collapse at Thrissusr.
All rivers from northern district of Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram in the south are in spate. Railways have suspended operations between Ernakulam and Palakkad stretch. The Kochi Metro has also suspended operations.
The shutters of 35 of the 39 dams in Kerala, including the 123-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam, have been opened for the first time in history, leaving large areas of the state at the risk of floods.
The heavy rain in Kerala since Tuesday filled the reservoirs of the dams to full capacity, and the fresh bout of rainfall on Wednesday claimed 21 lives, including seven members of a family, in a landslide in Malappuram district, and disrupted life in 12 of the 14 districts.
The Cochin International Airport on Wednesday suspended all flight operations till Saturday as the aerodrome was flooded following unabated rains and the opening of dam shutters in the Periyar river, prompting authorities to divert all incoming and outgoing flights to Thiruvananthapuram or Kozhikode. The Civil Aviation Ministry acceded to the state's request to utilise other airports in Kerala, instead of diverting the flights to Mumbai and other places.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted, "We have asked all airlines, domestic and foreign, to reschedule their Cochin flights either from Trivandrum or from Calicut (Kozhikode). For international flights, this will require special dispensation which has been granted considering the emergency. DGCA is coordinating." To the state government's request to allow small aircraft to land at the naval airport in Kochi, the minister said they were exploring alternative landing places for small aircraft.
"Kochi airport is not operating flights as runway is flooded.We shall explore possibilities of smaller aircraft's landing at alternate authorised landing places,will ensure all rescue operations will get full assistance from aviation ministry,will coordinate all with state govt (sic)," he said in another tweet. The minister also said that he had directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Airport Authority to provide call centre facility to all stranded passengers as well as to provide requisite support to all rescue agencies so that "we ensure best possible solution to those unfortunately suffering from fury of nature".
Earlier, Kerala Chief Minster Pinarayi Vijayan called an urgent meeting at the Secretariat. The chief minister asked officials to make necessary arrangements to take passengers, who may be landing in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, to their respective places by state-run buses. The Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), which decided to suspend the arrival operations at 4 am to 7 am today as a precautionary measure, had earlier said the airport would be shut till 2 pm. It later issued another advisory saying the operations have been suspended till Saturday afternoon. A spokesperson of the airport said, "Kochi Airport operations have been temporarily suspended till Saturday 2 pm as the inflow of water is still on a rising trend. We are working hard to drain out the storm water."
An official statement said the state government would soon approach the Civil Aviation Ministry asking whether small flights to Kochi could be allowed to land at the naval airport. In the morning hours, passengers faced problems due to suspension of operations as they had already reached the airport to catch flights. They complained of not getting assistance from any authorities. "Monitoring situation arising out of unprecedented Kerala floods to mitigate challenges faced by passengers.
Working with state government to ensure proper movement as much as possible in given situation. Airports Authority, DGCA Secy, all directed to provide best possible assistance(sic)," Prabhu tweeted. The Union minister informed that 14 international flights operated by airlines such as Air Arabia, Emirates, Etihad, Sri Lankan airways were rescheduled to and from Thiruvananthapuram instead of Kochi during the day. Besides, six international carriers including Gulf Air, Air Asia Berhad, Scoot and Silk Air cancelled their flights to Kochi.
Meanwhile, a government statement said that to cater to the stranded passengers, "scheduled domestic airlines have been advised to reschedule their flights to/from Cochin to Trivandrum and Calicut airports till such time the situation at Cochin airport returns to normal".
Scheduled domestic airlines have also been advised to operate relief flights to Thiruvananthapuram/Kozhikode for passengers of diverted flights, who have landed at Bangalore, Coimbatore and Chennai on 15 August 2018 morning instead of Kochi. Domestic carrier Vistara said it was operating special flights to Thiruvananthapuram in view of Kochi airport closure and will cap fares on economy class.
Flights will operate from Delhi and Chennai. In a tweet, the airline said, "economy class fares will be capped at Rs 10,000/7,500 respectively one way. We don't normally operate to TRV, and have made special arrangements," it said. Rains in the state have claimed 47 lives, officials said, adding a red alert has been sounded in 12 of the 14 districts.
According to weathermen, heavy rainfall accompanied by gusty winds with speed reaching 60 kmph, is expected in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Kozhikode districts.
Updated Date: Aug 16, 2018 22:44 PM