When it rains, it pours; and Kerala is experiencing it. Dams, reservoirs and rivers have overflowed, roads have caved in, sections of highways collapsed, and homes swept away in ferocious floods. People are homeless, tourists are stranded, and wildlife is in danger as more than half of Kerala is dealing with severe flooding due to the unforgiving rain. Opening of all five gates of one of the dams of the Idukki water reservoir have only added misery to the already-dire situation. 29 people have died and tens-of-thousands have been evacuated from affected areas. Rescue operations are being carried out round-the-clock, and around 500 relief camps have been set up so far. Over 50 tourists stranded at a resort in the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki, have been rescued by the army. The army, navy, air force, coast guard, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have joined hands, by coordinating on a massive scale to carry out evacuations and relief operations. A fourth red alert has been issued for the Idukki reservoir, the gates of which were opened yesterday after 26 years.
Here are the 10 latest developments to this important story:
- Days of incessant rain have led to raging floods across Kerala. Buildings and infrastructure have collapsed, leaving over 54,000 people homeless. At least 29 people have died in rain, flood, and landslide-related incidents, while tens-of-thousands have been evacuated from affected areas.
- Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains resulting from the southwest monsoon since August 8. Of the 29 people who died, 25 were killed in landslides, while four people drowned. Officials said that over 54,000 people are now housed in around 500 relief camps across the state.
- Five columns of the army have been deployed in the state’s seven severely-hit northern districts, out of Kerala’s 14, to help evacuate people, and to build makeshift bridges. The Indian Navy’s southern command has also been put on alert after water level in Periyar river rose amid concerns that parts of Wellingdon Island in Kochi could be completely inundated. Almost all of Kerala’s 40-odd rivers are in spate, officials said.
- Tourists have been barred from entering the hilly Idukki district after roads caved in at many places. Army soldiers are building small bridges to evacuate those stranded at various places in Kozhikode and Wayanad. The US has issued an advisory to all its citizens not to travel to Kerala due to the flood situation.
- With the possibility of release of more water from the Idukki reservoir, the state government has issued a fourth red alert. The latest red alert is for Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Malappuram, Kozhikode, and Palakkad till August 11, Idukki till August 13, and Wayanad till August 14. People living downstream of the Periyar river in Kochi, and Cheruthoni river in Idukki have been warned of a possibility of inundation of banks.
- Water level had crossed the maximum storage capacity of reservoirs of 24 out of the state’s 58 dams, forcing officials to release the water by opening the sluice gates, including those of the Idukki reservoir. Two more shutters of the Cheruthoni dam, part of the Idukki reservoir, the biggest arch dam in Asia, were lifted yesterday.
- Periyar river in Aluva too is in spate following the release of water from the Idamalayar dam. People living in low-lying areas have been asked to remain vigilant. 55 people have so far been evacuated from flood hit areas by the navy in its ‘Operation Madad’ to assist the state government. Helicopters and boats were used in the operation to evacuate towns and cities.
- Flood water also triggered landslides at many areas in the state. In fact, landslides have resulted in more deaths (25), when compared with floods (4). Union Minister KJ Alphons said on Friday that this is the biggest spell of rain Kerala has witnessed in over five decades. “This is the biggest spell of rain we have had in 50 years,” the minister said.
- In some good news, over 50 tourists, including 20 foreigners from Russia, United States, Saudi Arabia and Oman, who were stranded at a resort in the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki, have been rescued by the army. They were stranded after the roads leading to their resort at Pallivasal was damaged in landslides after heavy rains.
- This morning, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reviewed the flood situation and relief works being undertaken by the army, navy, air force, coast guard and the NDRF. The chief minister cancelled all his public functions till August 12, and said he will personally monitor the situation from the state capital. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke with the chief minister yesterday, is also monitoring the situation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, spoke with chief minister Vijayan yesterday, and offered all possible assistance to those affected.
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(With inputs from PTI)