Bengaluru: Kerala is staring at more trouble as incessant rains over the past few days have brought back the fear of last year’s devastating floods – the worst in the state’s history and from which it is still recovering.
Red alert issued for nine out of 14 Kerala Kerala districts— Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur, Kasargode.
Heavy rains have so far killed 17 in the state. About 22,000 people have been evacuated following the downpour that has caused wide-scale destruction to houses, roads, bridges, throwing general life out of gear.
Connectivity has been disrupted — Kochi airport will remain shut until Sunday, trains are running delayed or have been cancelled, buses are off from waterlogged roads.
The worst, however, may not be over yet.
According to the weather department, Kerala would continue to receive rains till 11 August, with forecast of very heavy rainfall for Friday. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has issued flood alerts for all districts in the state. However, in a positive for the state, water level at all major dams is around half of their storage capacity, unlike last year.
Last year, heavy rains coupled with massive discharges from the dams had led to floods.
The India Meteorological Department has issued a red alert for Idukki, Malappuram, Kozhikode, and Wayanad districts. However, Saturday onwards these districts may get some relief from the rains.
While the state government has declared holiday for schools in all districts, the authorities of the Malabar (north Kerala) and central Kerala region have been evacuating people since Thursday without waiting for water levels to reach danger levels.
Two hilly districts and tourist hotspots, Idukki and Wayanad, have been flooded. On Thursday, of the 9,000 people the state evacuated, some 8,000 were from Wayanad. The remoteness of locations and connectivity hurdles have hit relief work, but the state is trying its best, said Revenue Minister E Chandrashekaran.
On Thursday, a major landslide was reported in a tea estate in Wayanad, with relief operations underway. Three dead bodies have been recovered so far, with several reported missing, feared dead. According to local reports, the area housed tea estate labourers, their canteen, a temple, and a mosque.
The connectivity to the area was severely hit and rescue operations started only on Friday morning. Two units of National Disaster Relief Force have reached the spot, apart from the state fire and rescue forces. A column of army with 40 soldiers has reached Kochi to assist with the relief work. Six columns of Defense Security Corps— headquartered in Kannur— have been deployed in the northern districts of Kerala and Coorg.
About 65 people are feared stuck in Nilambur, Malappuram district, according to local reports.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Wayanad’s Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for more central forces to assist with relief and rescue operations.