Monsoon fury unabated in Kerala, 92 dead and 2.87 lakh displaced

Wooden logs float on the Chaliyar river as remnants of the flash flood, in Malappuram district. Photo: PTI.

With rains subsiding in many parts of Kerala, search operations are on in landslide-hit Kavalappara and Puthumala in Malappuram and Wayanad districts, as the toll in the monsoon fury climbed to 92 and 2.87 lakh people have sought refuge in relief camps. CM Pinarayi Vijayan will visit Malapuram and Wayanad to rescue camps.

The toll is expected to go up as 50 people are still missing in Malappuram. There is no red alert of torrential rains for any of the 14 districts on Tuesday (August 13), but an “orange alert” has been issued for six districts.

An “orange” weather warning means people should “be prepared” and there is an increased likelihood of bad or extreme weather, which may disrupt road and air travel and threaten life and property. The state’s northern districts of Malappuram, Wayanad, Kozhikode, and Idukki in central Kerala were the worst hit in the torrential rains.

Malappuram was rocked by a series of landslips triggered by heavy rain since August 8 at Kavalappara and Kottakunnu in which 24 people have died. With the recovery of more bodies, including 24 from Malappuram, 17 from Kozhikode, and 12 from Wayanad since August 8, the toll has gone up to 76.

In Malappuram, 59,351 people have been lodged in 240 camps. In neighbouring Wayanad, which was also rocked by a massive landslide at Puthumala, 12 people have lost their lives and seven are still missing.

Also read: Landslides, floods take a toll on Kerala’s Malappuram, Wayanad

In the 212 relief camps in the district, over 35,000 people have taken shelter, an official release said. In Kozhikode district, 17 deaths have been reported and over 60,000 people shifted to 209 camps.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited relief camps and flood-hit areas in his Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, including worst hit Puthumala, and interacted with people. “It is a tragedy not only for Wayanad, but for Kerala and also some southern states. This is not only a Wayanad issue, this is a Kerala issue, this is a Karnataka issue.”

“I think the Central government needs to pay attention and aggressively support the people of these states,” the Congress leader told reporters at Kalpetta after attending a review meeting with government officials on the flood situation in his constituency.

He also tweeted that he had visited the epicentre of Puthumala landslide at Meppadi in Wayanad. “This is the site of a terrible landslide that destroyed an entire village, many people are still feared to be trapped & rescue work is ongoing,” he said.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday (August 12) directed district collectors to ensure all necessary facilities for people living in relief camps and a sanitation drive is being conducted in a proper manner in flood-hit places. Steps should be taken to restore power supply and drinking water distribution in rain-hit areas, he said.

Vijayan, during a review meeting with collectors through video conference, also asked district authorities to provide temporary lodging for those who had lost their houses, even after the relief camps are wound up.

As the rains receded, rescue operations in affected areas have become smooth, he said, adding that the next major rescue task was to evacuate people from mudslide-prone areas. Vijayan will visit Malappuram and Wayanad districts on Tuesday.

Stoking a controversy, the CPI(M) politburo claimed that Home Minister Amit Shah had “deliberately skipped” aerial survey of the flood-hit areas of the state and instead chose to visit BJP-ruled states like Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Also read: Death, destruction and grit in the face of floods

“The home minister in his aerial survey of flood-hit areas chose to go only to BJP ruled states of Maharashtra & Karnataka. It appears that he deliberately skipped the survey of the badly affected Kerala,” it alleged in a statement.

According to an India Meterological Department (IMD) update, heavy rains are likely in the next two days in southern Kerala. Thunderstorm accompanied by moderate rainfall with wind speed reaching 40 to 50 kmph is very likely to occur at one or two places in Alappuzha, Ernakulam, and Pathanamthitta districts.

“Orange Alert” has been sounded in six districts including Kannur, Wayanad, Malappuram, Idukki, Ernakulam, and Alappuzha and yellow alert (severe bad weather) in five – Kasaragod, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur, and Pathanamthitta – on Tuesday, IMD sources said.

The flood affected Shoranur-Kozhikode section has been fully restored and up and down lines have been made fit for train operation, Railways said.

Also read: Mother held infant son’s hand tight even in death in flood-hit Kerala

Holiday has been declared for educational institutions in five districts – Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Malappuram – on Tuesday and various university examinations have been postponed, authorities said.

In the wake of the torrential rains and loss to lives and property, the state had a subdued Eid celebration on Monday as a majority of the people avoided festivities and focused on collecting relief material for the flood affected.

At relief camps in districts like Kozhikode, a Muslim-dominated area, authorities and volunteers prepared biryani for inmates and ensured facilities for them to offer prayers. Setting a fine example of unity, Muslim youths cleaned Hindu temples, which were filled with mud after being inundated, in Kannur and Wayanad which had witnessed torrential rains during the past few days.

Also read: Help Kerala flood victims, pleads Rahul Gandhi; rains, floods paralyse 4 states