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Toll goes up to 28 in Kerala, 40 feared trapped under debris in 2 major landslides

PTI     August 10, 2019

Torrential rains continued to lash most parts of Kerala on Friday with the toll in the last three days rising to 28 in monsoon-related incidents, including two massive landslides, and over 64,000 people being shifted to relief camps.

At least 40 people are feared trapped under debris in major landslides that shook the badly affected districts of Wayanad and Malappuram, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

A year after Kerala was devastated by the deadliest monsoon that led to the worst deluge in a century, the southern state was again at the receiving end of the nature's fury, prompting the government to seek the help of the Indian Army and the Air Force (IAF).

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.

Pinarayi Vijayan, who reviewed the flood situation on Friday evening, told mediapersons that 28 people lost their lives in the last three days and seven were missing.

Twenty-seven people have been injured in the rain-related incidents in various parts of the state, Pinarayi Vijayan added.

The Banasura Sagar dam in Wayanad was likely to be opened any time in view of rising water level, Pinarayi Vijayan said.

A total of 738 relief camps have been opened across the state with over 64,000 people displaced from their houses by the floods and rains being shifted there.

Rescue and relief operations were on in full swing with the involvement of personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), police, the fireforce and forest department.

Rail, road and air transport took a hit in the state with several trains being cancelled and the Cochin International Airport shut till August 11 due to water logging in almost 60 per cent region of its operational area.

All flights have been diverted to the state capital for next two days.

Seven dams of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and six of the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) have been opened in view of heavy inflows, officials said.

Landslides and mud-slips have been reported from over 25 places in the state. Kavalapara near Nilambur in Malappuram District suffered heavy loss with nearly 40 houses being washed away due to a massive landslide, officials said.

Several people are feared missing from the hilly region.

"We have retrieved three bodies from the area. Since the whole area was washed out, we were unable to ascertain the actual loss," a district revenue official told PTI.

The officials said they had earlier asked the locals to move out of the area due to imminent danger of landslide but most of them were reluctant to shift, he said.

Pinarayi Vijayan said that in Kavalapara, at least 17 families had shifted to relief camps after being alerted about the danger of landslide by the authorities. However, some of the families had refused to move away from their homes and the 'worst' was being feared.

"We have a very unfortunate example. Some people shifted but some didn't. However, all those who had stayed back are feared to have lost their life," Pinarayi Vijayan said appealing to those staying near flood-prone areas to shift to relief camps.

On the Thursday evening major landslide hit Meppadi in Wayanad, officials said they suspected nearly 70 houses could have been damaged.

Nine bodies were recovered on Friday by the rescue personnel from the landslide spot, they said.

"The evacuation process and the rescue operation are still going on," officials said adding they were yet to ascertain the full gravity of the situation.

They also said the landslides in Meppadi and Kavalapara had affected nearly 100 acres of land and incessant rain was hampering the rescue operations.

Pinarayi Vijayan said the state government has allotted Rs 22.5 crore for immediate assistance in flood-hit areas.

Official sources said most of the towns in the Malabar region of the state are under sheets of water.

Sreekandapuram in Kannur and adjacent areas have been submerged. Likewise, the famous Parassinikadavu temple in Kannur district has been inundanted with people being rescued in country-boats.

Pinarayi Vijayan said at most places, water level has gone higher than the floods of last year.

"We also have a situation where the Banasura Sagar Dam has to be opened. The water level will [further] rise. We are receiving heavy outflow of water from Karnataka. Wayanad has also been receiving heavy rains. We also have threat of landslides," Pinarayi Vijayan said.

In the wake of the serious situation, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan urged government employees, on leave, to report back for duty and coordinate in the relief operations.

"Most of the train services in the state have been hit. We are doing all possible means to restore the services. Some trains have been stranded en route. We have also taken necessary steps to take the people to their destinations," Pinarayi Vijayan said.

The Met department has issued a red alert in Ernakulam, Thrissur, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod Districts of the state for Friday and in Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannurfor August 10.

The heavy unabated rains since the past few days have hit the state which is yet to fully recover from the extensive damage cuased by the August, 2018 delgue that claimed over 400 lives and left lakhs of people homeless.

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