Thiruvananthapuram: Heavy rains in Kerala on Thursday claimed 22 lives, leaving a trail of destruction across the state.
With water levels rising in several dams and almost reaching its maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in the state have been opened to drain out excess water.
“In the intervening night of August 8-9, 22 person died in various districts of Kerala due to heavy rain and landslides,” said a Home Ministry statement, quoting Kerala Emergency Operations Centre.
11 people were killed in a massive landslide in high range Idukki, six in northern Malappuram district, two others in Kannur and one in Wayanad district since Wednesday night, disaster control room source said here. Five members of a family were killed in Idukki’s Adimali town. Two persons were pulled out alive from the debris by the locals and police, they said
After a review meeting, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters that the flood situation in the state was “very grim” and it was for the first time in the history of the state that 22 dams have been opened at a time following the water level reaching its maximum capacity.
“There is a possibility of water level increasing in Kuttanad in the district in the event of the Kakki reservoir lifting shutters. So, the boat race has been postponed. The new date will be announced later,” Vijayan said. He said an assistance of Army, Navy and Coast Guard has been sought and six more columns of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had been requested to be deployed in the flood-hit areas.
“The flood has caused large-scale damage across the state. Water levels in rivers are on the rise. Thus, there is a need to open the shutters of many dams,” the chief minister said. The deployment of Navy helicopter has been sought for the rescue of those stranded in the remote areas of Wayanad district, he said.
Educational institutions have declared a holiday in Idukki, Kollam and other districts of the state. The annual Nehru Trophy boat race, scheduled to be held at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha district on August 11, has been postponed due to floods, he added.
As a precaution, all incoming flights to the Cochin International Airport Limited till 2.30 pm were diverted to other destinations, while there will be no problem for outgoing flights. Later, after two hours operations resumed at the CIAL. “As the situation is improved we are resuming all operations from 3.05 pm today,” a CIAL spokesperson said. The CIAL had earlier stopped arrival operations from 1.10 pm, as a precautionary measure.
Vijayan said that the Central team has agreed to provide all help. “Since heavy rains have led to widespread loss and destruction, we call upon all to donate to the Chief Minister’s Fund,” Vijayan said.
Earlier State Power Minister MM Mani, who is from Idukki, said: “I visited the affected areas on Thursday morning; things are pretty bad. The shutters of the Idamalyar dam were opened. We will open a shutter of the Idukki dam also.”
At 12.30 pm, after a gap of 26 years, one shutter of the Cheruthoni dam of the Idukki reservoir, considered the biggest arch dam in Asia, was opened as part of a trial run and to assess the water flow with the water level touching 2,398.98 ft.
Kerala: Idukki dam opened after 26 years, following rising water levels due to heavy rains in the district.
— ANI (@ANI) August 9, 2018
Earlier Vijayan held an emergency meeting and appointed senior official PH Kurian to lead the rescue and relief operations.
A special monitoring cell has been opened in the state secretariat and all the 14 district collectors have been directed to open one monitoring centre in each district.
(With inputs from Agencies)