Today's Newspaper

22 die in flood, landslides as rain ravages Kerala

| | Kochi

At least 22 persons, including four children and two  students, were killed and seven went missing in Kerala on Thursday in landslides and floods triggered by torrential rain that had been lashing the State for the past two days in the third spell of the southwestern monsoon even as normal human life was thrown out of gear in six districts.

Several houses were buried under mud and rubbles thrown down by landslides or washed away by gushing floodwaters while dozens of houses were destroyed completely and hundreds were damaged. Almost all the rivers in the State were overflowing even as shutters of 23 major reservoirs had to be lifted after water crossed the maximum permissible levels.

One of the five shutters of the Cheruthoni dam, part of the three-dam giant Idukki hydel reservoir system, was opened at Thursday noon for the first time in the past 26 years for a “trial run” after water level crossed the 2,399-feet mark while the maximum storage level is 2,403 feet. However, the reservoir water level was still climbing on Thursday night.

Idukki, Malappuram, Wayanad, Palakkad, Kozhikode and Kannur districts were the worst hit in the heavy rain. While mountainous Wayanad district remained almost totally cut off from the rest of the State on Thursday, several parts of the mountainous Idukki district lost contact with other regions due to landslides.

Road traffic came to a standstill in Wayanad and Idukki, several areas of Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur and many parts of Palakkad while landing of flights was suspended for two hours at the Kochi International Airport at Nedumbassery following apprehensions of the runway getting waterlogged after all shutters of the Idamalayar hydel reservoir were lifted.

Lack of access to affected areas due to roadblocks caused by landslides and flooding hampered rescue and relief operations by the police and Fire and Rescue Force even as reports said torrential rain was continuing in most areas of the worst-hit districts even on late Thursday evening. According to weathermen, heavy rain may continue in the State for two more days.

“The situation is very grave and extraordinary,” State Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told mediapersons in Thiruvananthapuram after a meeting held for reviewing the situation on Thursday. “Shutters of 22 dams have already been opened. Such a situation has never come up so far,” he said a few minutes before the opening of the Cheruthoni dam shutter.

At least 11 persons were killed in landslides in mountainous Idukki district on Thursday in incidents of landslides and mudslides.

Five members of a family, including two children, were killed in Adimali in the district after their house was buried under the mud and rocks deposited by a landslide that hit the area at about 2.30 am.

Three persons went missing in a landslide at Rajapuram near Murikkassery while two were killed in a mudslide at Periyar Valley near Kanjikkuzhy in Idukki district on Thursday. At least 10 incidents of landslide and mudslide were reported from Idukki. The Munnar region was almost cut off from the rest of the State due to roadblocks caused by landslides.

Five persons, including two children and a woman, were killed and one went missing after being trapped in gushing floodwaters triggered by a massive landslide at Chettiyampara near Nilambur in Malappuram district. A minimum of eight incidents of landslides and mudslides hit the mountainous regions of Malappuram district on Thursday alone.

Almost entire Wayanad got isolated with the landslides causing blocks at many places on the two main roads connecting it with Kozhikode. A woman was killed at Vythiri after she was trapped in her house covered by tons of mud and rocks brought by a landslide in which also damaged a police station building nearby.

Public Works officials said that traffic to and from Wayanad could remain suspended for at least two days. Many passengers were trapped along the Thamarassery Pass leading to Kalpetta in Wayanad. Several hectares of farmlands and many low-lying residential areas in Wayanad were inundated after shutters of the Banasurasagar reservoir were lifted due to rising water level.

A young man was killed at Kannappankundu near Mattikkunnu in Kozhikode district in an incident of a landslide forcing diversion of a small river after the car he was driving got carried away by the river's gushing waters. Two Plus II students drowned in a river at Mannur in Ernakulam district while they were taking a bath.

Almost all rivers in the northern Kerala districts, especially Wayanad, Kannur and Palakkad, had breached banks and inundated hundreds of hectares of farmlands and many human habitats. Many areas of Palakkad district were flooded with water soaring even to upper floors of houses after the shutters of the Malampuzha reservoir were lifted.

The famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race, scheduled to be held on Saturday on the Punnamada backwaters in Alappuzha district, has been postponed indefinitely. Chief Minister Pinarayi said this had to be done as flooding was possible once the dam shutters of Kakki reservoir in Pathanamthitta, where water level was steadily climbing, were opened.



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