22 killed as rains wreak havoc in Kerala; red alert for 23 dams

22 killed as rains wreak havoc in Kerala; red alert for 23 dams

Heavy downpour across Kerala claimed 22 lives today and five persons were missing.

Landslides were reported in five districts after the southwest monsoon gained strength over the last 48 hours. There has been no respite to the rain which is also hampering rescue operations. The forecast is heavy rain for the next two days. Wayanad was totally cut off. The intensity of the monsoon has resulted in the opening of 22 dams in the State with red alert issued for the 23rd in the evening.

Trial run began at Idukki dam where a shutter of Cheruthoni dam was lifted partially after 26 years. Though it was expected only for four hours, authorities decided to continue it till 6 am tomorrow as water level in the dam was on the rise. A decision on opening the shutter would be taken tomorrow.

Kochi international airport operations were normal after a two-hour suspension of arrivals.

The Cabinet held an emergency meeting this morning to take stock of the situation and decided to seek additional forces of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and also press into service Central forces. The Army has been active in rescue operations. Four teams of NDRF comprising 45 members each has moved in to the State from Chennai.

Twelve persons were killed in Idukki where five members of a family died when their house was washed away in a landslide at Adimali. Landslide left two of a family dead at Kurangatti and another two at Muringasseri in the region. A few people were reported to be trapped under debris in the hilly terrains of the district.Six members of a family were killed in a landslide at Chettiyampara in Malappuram district.

In Ernakulam, two students of a higher secondary school near Keezhillam in Perumbavoor were washed away in floods. One person was killed in Wayanad which witnessed landslides, remaining cut off from other parts of the State. Parts of Palakkad were inundated after the shutters of Malampuzha dam were opened.Kannur too witnessed a few landslides.

Authorities issued a red alert in Pathanamthitta district where shutters of the Kakki dam were expected to be opened. Across the State, several roads, bridges and houses were washed away. Several parts of Ernakulam district are under serious threat of inundation in the wake of the opening of the Idalamayar and Idukki dam shutters.

After the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told mediapersons that the situation was grave across the State and said all preparedness was in place. Shelter homes had been readied. He said the annual Nehru Boat Race to be held in Alappuzha on August 11 had been postponed.

In the wake of opening of dams, people have been asked to stay away from danger zones. The Central expert team which arrived in the State to assess the loss due to monsoon was expected to visit the northern parts of Kerala.