Rains to intensify; Red Alert in 7 districts

The Kerala Disaster Management Authority has issued Red Alert in Wayanad district till August 14

Thiruvananthapuram: Indian Meteorological Department has informed that the rains continuously battering the state is set to intensify in the coming days.

The Kerala Disaster Management Authority has issued a red alert in Wayanad district till August 14. The worst-hit Wayanad has been completely cut off from other districts. The roads connecting the district to outside has been completely destroyed and traffic has been hit.

Apart from Wayanad, a red alert has been issued for Idukki till August 13 as the IMD has announced possibilities of torrential rains till date.

In the wake of rain havoc, red alert has been issued also in Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Palakkad, Malappuram and Kozhikode districts till Saturday.

At the same time, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has cancelled all his public functions till August 12 and will monitor the situation. He will visit the flood-hit areas on Saturday. The visit will start from 7 30 in the morning. He will reach the disaster hit areas via helicopter accompanied by revenue minister, chief secretary and DGP.

Five columns of Army have been deployed in the state's northern districts since last night, and small bridges have been constructed to evacuate people stranded at various places in Kozhikode and Wayanad.

The Indian Navy has put on alert its Southern Naval Command in view of the rising water level in the Periyar river and a possible inundation of parts of Wellingdon Island surrounded by the backwaters of Kochi.

Twenty-six people have lost their lives since August 8 in landslides and floods caused due to the heavy rains as the South-west monsoon remains vigorous over Kerala.

The Idukki district administration has restricted tourists from visiting hilly areas and movement of heavy goods carriers also has been restricted.

At least 30 tourists, including foreigners stranded at the Plum Judy resort at Munnar since Wednesday as roads are blocked due to landslips, are safe and the Army's help has been sought, state Tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran said, adding they will be shifted to the KTDC.

People living downstream of Periyar and Cheruthoni rivers have been warned that there is a possibility of inundation of banks as torrential rain pounded the state for the second day in a row. Gates of 24 dams in the state have been opened so far due to rising water level.

Five shutters of the Idukki reservoir have been opened as the water level continued to rise following continuing rains.

One shutter was opened yesterday after a gap of 26 years.

The water level in Idukki at 5 pm stood at 2401.72 feet against the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of 2,403 feet.

This morning chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the flood situation and relief works being undertaken by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the NDRF.

Informing reporters that there is a need to release more water from the Idukki dam in the wake of increase in the water level, he said, "It is essential to release water three times than what was being released now."

In view of this, water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries will rise. People have to be vigilant, he said.

Union minister Alphons Kannamthanam said he discussed the flood situation in Kerala with Home Minister Rajnath Singh this morning.

"The Government of India is providing all the required assistance including services of armed forces, disaster management team and other required assistance. Any other immediate assistance requested by the Government of Kerala will be provided," he said in a Facebook post.

Col Ajai Sharma, the Commandant of DSC Centre, who is overseeing relief and rescue operations, said five columns of Army has been deployed in the northern districts since last night.

"The haphazard development along the streams has affected the natural flow of rivers, which is a challenge right now," he said.

"The situation is under control," he said.

Meanwhile, state Revenue minister E Chandrasekharan reviewed the flood situation and the precautionary measures to be taken in Aluva and nearby areas in view of the possibility of increase in the water level following release of more water from Idukki reservoir.

Periyar river in Aluva is already in spate following release of water from Idamalayar dam and people living in low-lying areas have been asked to be vigilant.

Cochin International Airport Limited sources said operations at the airport had not been affected. There was no need to suspend flights and there has been no cancellations.

"The operational area is intact. No cancellation of services so far," an airport spokesperson said.

According to state disaster control room sources, 241 relief camps have been opened and 15,695 people have been shifted from low-lying areas.

Over 5,500 people from Wayanad district, where a red alert had been sounded yesterday, have been shifted to relief camps, the sources said this morning.

In Ernakulam, 3,456 people have been shifted to camps following floods after four shutters of the Idamalayar dam were opened yesterday. The government has asked tourists not to go to high-range areas and dam sites.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with the Chief Minister yesterday in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state, and offered all possible assistance to those affected.

In Palakkad district, the flood waters have started receding today as the quantity of water being released from Malampuzha dam has been reduced and Palakkad town is limping back to normal. However, many areas are still inundated and people were seen trying to save their belongings.

(With PTI inputs)

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