Kerala rains: Toll climbs to 67 as flood worsens; red alert issued across the state; CM seeks Narendra Modi's intervention
Incessant downpour battered Kerala on Wednesday resulting in 19 more deaths and further destruction, forcing authorities to issue a red alert across the southern state.
Thiruvananthapuram: The flood situation in Kerala further worsened with many areas inundated and flight operations suspended till Saturday at Kochi airport, as the toll rose to 67 with rain fury claiming 25 lives on Wednesday.
Officials said a red alert has been sounded in all the 14 districts of the state.
From Kasaragod in the north to Thiruvananthapuram in the south, all rivers are in spate and shutters of 35 dams, including Mullaperiyar, have been opened.
"The toll in rain-related incidents since 8 August mounted to 67 with 25 deaths reported Wednesday," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
"Eleven deaths were reported from Malappuram alone," officials said.
Vijayan said the heavy rains would continue for some more days, which will further worsen the situation.
More than 1.5 lakh people have been lodged in relief across the state, he said.
A government release said Vijayan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the grave situation the state was facing following the rains.
"The prime minister has assured all help," it said.
The prime minister has taken a "positive stand" towards the state on relief measures, Vijayan told reporters.
Train services have been disrupted and road transport services are in disarray with stretches of roads coming under water.
Officials said a holiday has been declared for educational institutions in all districts barring Kasaragod tomorrow while colleges and universities have postponed exams.
Power supply, communication systems and distribution of drinking water have been disrupted in various parts of the state in the rain mayhem.
As the situation became grave, the state government sought the help of more teams of army personnel, National Disaster Response Force and Army Engineering.
The chief minister also met Governor P Sathasivam and informed him of the situation.
Major tourist centres including Athirappally, Ponmudi and Munnar, which were expecting huge influx of visitors in the wake of Onam festival season, have closed.
The Kochi international airport announced a shutdown till Saturday after water entered the airport area.
As flights were being diverted to various airports or suspended, the state government decided to seek centre's permission to allow small aircraft to land at the Naval airport in Kochi.
Airlines including IndiGo, Air India and SpiceJet have announced suspension of their operations to Kochi.
A landslide between Kuzhithurai and Eraniel stations has delayed four long distance trains, railway sources said adding a few passenger trains have been partially hit.
There were also speed restrictions on trains on the Thiruvananthapuram-Thrissur section while rail traffic on the Kollam-Punalur-Sengottai section has been suspended.
An urgent meeting, convened by the chief minister here to evaluate the flood situation, directed officials to requisition maximum number of lifeboats from Tamil Nadu.
The chief secretary was asked to contact neighbouring states for emergency assistance.
As the drinking water distribution system collapsed in several parts, Vijayan asked people to minimise the use of water being distributed by the state water authority.
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