Kerala floods, landslides take toll to 28; red alert issued for 7 districts

Kerala Flood Landslide - The Federal
Floodwater following incessant monsoon rainfall, in a residential area. (PTI Photo)

As many as 28 people have died in Kerala due to heavy rain-triggered floods and landslides in the last three days, as the state deployed defence and rescue personnel for relief efforts, a year after Kerala was devastated by the deadliest monsoon that led to the worst deluge in a century.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan warned that several areas are prone to landslides due to the heavy downpour. Army units and defense services, which he had sought from the Centre, have already reported for aiding rescue efforts, he said.

“738 camps have opened in Kerala so far, and 64,013 people are residing there. Wayanad is the worst affected disctrict. We are trying our level best to rescue people,” he said.

Red alert has been issued for seven districts — Eranakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur.

Kerala government has issued helpline numbers for people.

State Emergency Operation Centre: 9446568222
State Toll-free helpline: 1070
Cochin Airport helpline: 0484-3053500

The iconic Nehru Trophy boat race, a much-awaited annual spectacle in Kerala and scheduled to be held on Saturday (August 9), has been postponed for the second consecutive year following floods. The race in Alappuzha, a major tourist attraction which sees chundan vallams (snake boats) competing in Punnamada Lake, used to be held on the second Saturday of the month of August every year.

CM Vijayan said on Friday that in the backdrop of the incessant rains and inclement weather, the government had decided to postpone the 67th edition of the boat race.

Vijayan, who chaired a high-level meeting on Friday morning to review the situation. Landslides and mud-slips have been reported from 24 places, he said.

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 north and central Kerala.

Flight operations at Kochi airport were suspended till Sunday due to inundation.

Also read: Rahul speaks to PM over floods in Kerala, seeks assistance for those affected 

“In Mepaddi in Wayanad, which witnessed the biggest landslide on Thursday evening, the area between two hills areas was completely washed away,” Vijayan said. The government has sought the assistance of the Indian Air Force.

Bharatapuzha has crossed 2018 water levels. Indian Navy has opened the Naval base airport. A 24 hour control room has been set up at the state police headquarters to assist those affected by the rains. People can reach through the emergency response centre by calling 112.

Personnel of the NDRF, Police, Fire force and Forest officials are engaged in rescue operations. Meppadi in Wayanad and Nilambur in Malappuram are among the worst-hit areas. To help in the rescue operations, 13 teams of NDRF personnel and around 180 Army officials have already 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 Kozhiokode, 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.

The IMD has forecast moderate to heavy rainfall with wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph at one or two places in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts.

Officials have advised fishermen not to venture into these areas during the period.

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

Also read: Kerala rains: Kochi airport suspends operations till Aug 11 

Tamil Nadu:

Similarly, the death toll in rain-related incidents in the hilly Nilgiris district rose to five on Friday, even as the tourist destination of Avalanche recorded the highest rainfall of 911 mm on a single day in south India. Avalanche, a major tourist destination, recorded 911 mm rainfall in the 24-hour period ending 8.30 am on Friday.

Karnataka:

The Central government has assured to extend all assistance to Karnataka to deal with the situation arising out of severe floods and incessant rains in parts of the State, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said on Friday.

“I am in constant touch with the Central government”, Yeddyurappa told reporters at Mudhol in Bagalkot district, where he interacted with the flood-affected people and later undertook an aerial survey. He said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh have been briefed on the rescue and relief efforts in Karnataka. “The Centre will extend all assistance… from financial point of view… they have also assured to help in other means,” the Chief Minister said.

Also read: Flood situation grim in Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and AP 

As per the last count, nearly 44,000 people have been evacuated from flood-hit and rain-affected areas of Karnataka, where the rain fury has left nine people dead in the past few days. The worst-hit was Belagavi district, where six people have lost their lives while 40,180 people have been evacuated.

Maharashtra: 

A helicopter is being deployed to drop relief material in the flood-ravaged areas of Sangli district in Maharashtra and it may also be used to evacuate stranded people, a senior official said on Friday. Rescue measures are underway in rural as well as urban areas of the western Maharashtra district, he said. As of Thursday, over two lakh people have been evacuated to safer places due to the floods that have wreaked havoc in five districts of Western Maharashtra – Sangli, Pune, Kolhapur, Solapur and Satara, officials have said.

Funds pour in:

Meanwhile, top officials of Larsen and Toubro Ltd, HDFC Bank and Paytm have donated about ₹15 crore to the Chief Ministers Relief Fund in Bihar. A cheque of ₹10 crore was presented to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar by the CEO and MD of Larsen and Toubro Shailesh Roy in presence of assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary on Thursday, a release said. HDFC Banks’ head for the eastern region Sandeep Kumar handed over a cheque of ₹4 crore to Kumar, while Paytm donated ₹80 lakh, the release said. The chief minister lauded the three corporate entities for displaying their commitment towards social causes.