Kerala rains: Toll rises to 22 after downpour triggers landslides, flooding in parts of state; govt seeks help from Indian Army, IAF

  • Rains continued to batter various parts of Kerala as the toll in monsoon related incidents, including landslides, in the last three days mounted to 22

  • Train services were also affected in some places as heavy rains triggered landslides while overflowing rivers caused flooding in several parts of Kerala

  • The worst affected areas being hilly Wayanad, Malappuram, Kannur and Idukki in the north and central Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Torrential rains continued to batter various parts of Kerala on Friday as the toll in monsoon related incidents, including landslides, in the last three days mounted to 22 with over 22,000 people being shifted to relief centres, officials said.

 Kerala rains: Toll rises to 22 after downpour triggers landslides, flooding in parts of state; govt seeks help from Indian Army, IAF

Army and NDRF personnel carry out a rescue operation in a flood-affected area of Kerala's Ernakulam district. PTI

A year after Kerala was devastated by the deadliest monsoon that led to the worst deluge in a century, the state was again at the receiving end of nature's fury, prompting the government to seek the help of the Army and the Air Force.

Train services were also affected in some places as heavy rains triggered landslides while overflowing rivers caused flooding in several parts with the worst affected being hilly Wayanad, Malappuram, Kannur and Idukki in the north and central Kerala.

Flight operations at the Kochi airport were suspended till Sunday due to inundation, bringing back memories of August last year when it was shut down for a fortnight following floods. A red alert for rainfall has been issued in nine of the 14 districts in the state and all educational institutions, including professional colleges, will remain closed till Saturday.

Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, who chaired a high-level meeting here on Friday morning to review the situation, told reporters that 22 people have died in rain-related incidents in the last three days.

Landslides and mud-slips have been reported from 24 places, he said. "In Mepaddi in Wayanad, which witnessed the biggest landslide on Thursday evening, the area between two hills was
completely washed away," he said.

The government has sought the assistance of the Indian Air Force, he said adding Meppadi in Wayanad and Nilambur in Malappuram were among the worst-hit areas. Rescue and relief operations were on in full swing with the involvement of personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Police, the Fireforce and forest department.

According to Defence sources, the landslide in Meppadi has completely destroyed houses in Puthumala and nearly 150 people were trapped and have to be rescued. Biju, an eyewitness, said a canteen and residence of plantation workers were also destroyed in the landslide. Many people ran away from the canteen and were rescued. Nine injured people have been shifted to a hospital.

Meanwhile, to help in the rescue operations, as many as 13 teams of NDRF personnel and around 180 Army officials have reached the state. Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan told reporters that defence personnel from Bhopal and from Wellington in Tamil Nadu are reaching the state to help in rescue operations.

A total of 16 Coast Guard teams are on high alert and two others have rescued 550 people from the flood-hit Baypore in Kozhikode, official sources said. In Kochi, the Southern Naval Command said it was ready to open its airport for operation of small commercial flights if the CIAL airport remained shut for a longer period.

"In view of the prevailing situation, the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy is all geared up and ready to provide any assistance to the civil administration as and when required," a Defence spokesman said. Four members of a family were killed at Edavanna in Malappuram district when their house collapsed on Friday.

A fresh landslide was reported from Kavalapara in Malappuram district on Thursday night and at least 30 houses have been affected, local people said. Chandrasekharan has directed that a team of NDRF be rushed to Kavalapara and further details were awaited, officials said.

The Cochin International Airport, where flight operations were initially suspended till midnight Friday after floodwaters inundated the apron area (parking), will remain closed till 3 PM on Sunday, an official press release said. According to the latest bulletin of the India Meteorological Department, Alathur in Palakkad recorded maximum rainfall of 39.8 cm as of Friday morning.

Several other areas in Palakkad district received heavy rainfall with Ottapalam recording 33.5 cm, Kollangode 31.9 cm, Manarcaud 30.5 cms. The IMD rain monitor at the Cochin Airport recorded a rainfall of 21.2 cm. Munnar, a popular tourist destination in Idduki district, received 20.5 cm of rainfall.

The government has suspended the iconic Snake Boat Race which was scheduled to be held in Alappuzha on Friday in the wake of heavy rains. Last year also, the race was suspended due to the floods that claimed over 400 lives and caused extensive damage.

The IMD has forecast moderate to heavy rainfall with wind speed reaching 40-50 kilometres per hour at one or two places in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts. High waves in the range of 3.2-3.7 metres were likely till 11.30 pm on Saturday along the coast of Kerala from Pozhiyoor to Kasargod, it said.

Officials have advised fishermen not to venture into these areas during the period. Train services in the Alapuzha route have been suspended till tomorrow, railway sources said. At least four trains, Maveli Express, Rajdhani, Dhanbad express and Guruvayur -- were held up at various points.

The chief minister said the government was monitoring the water level in all the dams in the state. "Water distribution has been affected due to floods and we have arranged tankers for the supply of drinking water," he said.

As per the official updates on Friday morning, a total of 22,165 people have been shifted to 315 relief camps across the state. In Wayanad, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress
leader Rahul Gandhi, as many as 9,951 people have taken shelter in 105 camps, while in Malappuram, 4,106 people have been shifted to 26 camps.

Examinations of the Kerala Public Service Commission and various universities across the state, scheduled for Saturday, have been postponed, officials said.

Updated Date: Aug 09, 2019 16:21:55 IST